Springer returns again… still with her family! – July 27th 2002

This day began with reports of numerous orcas arriving from the north… from their calls we knew that several A & G clan families were present, including A1s, A4s, I15s & I31/I11s, but we heard no A5 calls and did not know whether Springer’s companions of the past 10 days (A51 & A61) were there too. Some of the whales (A12s, I31s, I15s) headed into Blackney Pass on a swiftly ebbing tide in mid morning, and stalled in front of OrcaLab… eventually they took the easy way out and drifted back into Blackfish Sound. Meanwhile, we heard distant calls from the A30s at the “top” of Blackfish Sound. As the tide turned to flood, all the whales headed into Johnstone Strait via Weynton Pass. Soon after, we heard A5 calls and decided to go out in our boat to see if we could spot Springer. We were lucky. Alighting on Izumi Rock close to the Vancouver Island shoreline, we set up a spotting scope & cameras and waited for a group of small fins we had spotted from far away to come to us. Amazingly, they turned out to be A51 & A61… still with A73! Springer was slightly ahead of the others and passed on the outside of Izumi while A51 & A61 took the inside route. Interestingly (& significantly to us) Springer completely ignored our vessel, June Cove, which was tied up with the engine off only about 100m away. She seemed to be intently preoccupied with foraging. Given A51’s previous vigilance when Springer was around boats, we wondered if this apparent independence on Springer’s part reflected “progress” in her attitude towards boats. In any event, we had a great view of her mottled body glistening in sunlight as she arched her back to dive… and shortly after, we saw her join up with A51 & A61. Two other orcas appeared to be travelling with them… one looked like A71, the other like A64. If that was so it’s a very interesting development, as these are Springer’s closest relatives (A24’s offspring). The group proceeded to head on down to the rubbing beaches, went in for a lengthy rub & then turned around and headed back to the west. Eventually, later in the afternoon, they joined up with the A30s and the rest of the A5s, and headed north through Blackney Pass. They passed OrcaLab in a tightly bunched group, with Springer right there in the middle. As daylight dwindled, we were left with the reflection that Springer, clearly now comfortable in the companionship of Sharky’s orphans, had also found her way into the company of her great grandmother, Tsitika, A30!

Paul Spong

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