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The saga of Springer


Springer (A73) Chronology  

Winter 1999/2000

Springer (A73) was born to Sutlej (A45), a member of the A24 matriline of A4 pod.  Her grandmother is Kelsey (A24).

June 2000

Springer was first sighted and given the A73 designation by researchers John Ford and Graeme Ellis.

September 2000

Springer and her mother were sighted for the last time together by researcher Marilyn Dalheim.

Summer 2001

The A24 matriline that Springer belongs to was seen multiple times with all members present except for Springer and Sutlej.  It was thought that they had probably died.

August 2001

G50, a ten year old member of G1 pod, is seen swimming with a young calf.  G50 is assumed to be the mother and the calf is named G53.   On careful examination of photos months later, Graeme Ellis realized that G53 was actually Springer!

Sept. - Oct. 2001

G1 pod is seen feeding west of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, near the Washington/BC border.   It is not known whether Springer was still with them.

Jan. 2002 

A calf, eventually recognized as Springer, was sighted off Vashon Island, close to the Seattle waterfront.

February 13, 2002 

Researcher Lance Barrett-Lennard, veterinarian Dave Huff, and former trainer Clint Wright from the Vancouver Aquarium and Washington-based researcher Brad Hanson visit Springer to assess her health.  They find her emaciated, suffering from skin parasites and exhibiting ketosis (acetone-smelling breath, usually indicating starvation).

February 14, 2002 

Lance Barrett-Lennard and Dave Huff submit a proposed rescue plan to the US National Marine Fisheries Service

March-May 2002

Expert panel debates best course of action, Springer’s condition slowly deteriorates, Canadian and US governments negotiate, and the decision is finally made to capture, rehabilitate, move and release Springer.

June 13, 2002 

Springer’s capture is covered by TV and news outlets worldwide.  She is placed in a net pen near Seattle for rehabilitation

July 13, 2002

Springer’s health has improved dramatically.  She is transported by boat to Dong Chong Bay, near Johnson Strait, and placed in a net pen under the care of Vancouver Aquarium staff.

July 14-18, 2002 

Springer is released as members of her matriline pass by Dong Chong Bay.  She is not accepted initially and spends the next few days on her own, sometimes following a mile or so behind her pod.

July 18, 2002 

Springer is temporarily adopted by Nodales (A51), a 17 yr old female from the A5 pod who does not yet have a calf of her own.  She is sighted regularly over the next few years, sometimes with close relatives in A11 matriline, sometimes with Nodales, and sometimes with both.  Apart from moving between groups, she appears to be well socialized.

July 2007 

On the five-year anniversary of her release, many of the Vancouver Aquarium staff, researchers, government managers, veterinarians and volunteers who helped assess, catch, rehabilitate, release and monitor Springer meet for a reunion in Johnstone Strait.  Springer makes an appearance with the A11’s and dazzles everyone with her energy and vitality.


Springer continues to be sighted on a regular basis with the A11’s.  She appears to be in excellent health and her rehabilitation a complete success.







Photo: Lance Barrett-Lennard




Photo: Lance Barrett-Lennard




Photo: Lance Barrett-Lennard




Photo: Lance Barrett-Lennard




Photo: Lance Barrett-Lennard