Springer, the orphaned orca who touched the hearts of the world in 2002, has now become a mother. As you will see when you play the top video, the famous orphaned killer whale has now been photographed with her first baby at the age of 13.
Springer first rose to worldwide fame in 2002, when the orphaned juvenile was found alone and hungry in Puget Sound offshore Seattle, Washington — a very long way from her family pod offshore British Columbia, Canada. At the time, there were months of public debate about what to do to help Springer, with doubters stating that there was little point to humans trying to rescue the orca.
As you’ll see in the bottom video, no wild killer whale had ever before been successfully returned to a wild pod after a human intervention.
However, on June 12, 2002, the desperate orphaned orca was captured and rescued. She was treated, fed, and transported to Johnstone Strait, BC where she was released to rejoin her family group on July 13.
She had been observed with the group every year since, but this year is special because of Springer’s first baby orca.
CBC Canada said that the mother and calf were spotted together on July 4. They also noted that, even today, there is no other known case of a killer whale being successfully captured, treated, and then accepted back into their family pod.
Biologist Graeme Ellis, who spotted the mother and child, was delighted. He told CBC:
“We have been expecting her to give birth one of these years. She has just reached that age, and to me it was going to be the ultimate sign that this whole re-introduction was a success.”
Here is a video produced by the United States NOAA Fisheries about the original rescue of Springer, her capture, her rehabilitation, and her return to her pod:
Springer’s new calf is the ultimate thrill for all who worked to save the orphaned orca.
[orca photo by Christopher Michel via Wikimedia]