Springer’s 4th anniversary
July 14th, 2006 marks the 4th anniversary of Springer’s repatriation. The little orphan orca, who’s dramatic rescue and return to her family captivated the world in 2002, is now 6 years old and a fully functional member of her A4 pod and Northern Resident orca community. Springer was in her usual place in Yakat’s A11 matriline when she first arrived in the Johnstone Strait on June 27th, and (with the others) quickly settled into the familiar summer routine of socializing, feasting on the new season’s salmon runs, and rubbing her still-small body in the smooth pebbles that make up the “rubbing” beaches of the Michael Bigg-Robson Bight Ecological Reserve.
On the anniversary eve of her repatriation, Springer was amongst a large, energetic group of orcas that included all 3 matrilines of the A4 pod (A11s, A24s, A35s) as well as the A8s, a group from the A5 pod. Just after dawn, the orcas traveled quickly from eastern Johnstone Strait, swimming easily with one of the biggest ebb tides of the year; they were in a boisterous mood, evident from flukes flipping, spyhops, breaches and sudden splashes as they headed through Blackfish Sound and past Dong Chong Bay, the site of Springer’s release; then, when the tide turned to flood again, all the orcas headed back to Johnstone Strait, where they met up with the A12s, one of the A1 pod matrilines. The A12s were headed west, pushing against the tide, but as so often happens when orcas meet, Springer’s crowd turned & joined them. An hour later, all the orcas had turned and were east bound again, now swimming with the tide, heading towards the Ecological Reserve and the rubbing beaches, their voices joined in a rowdy chorus. Such is the day by day routine for young Springer. Quite clearly she is thriving, visibly bigger than a year ago, and absolutely at home.
We can’t know what Springer was thinking as she swam along in the early evening, but couldn’t help noting that all of the orcas into whose company Springer had been released on that remarkable day in 2002 were once again with her.