|It appears as if
we may have an opportunity to assist in the return to her
pod, of the adolescent Orca whale
A73(Springer). From inside
"the zone of exclusion" Stay tuned for further info. Uploading
courtesy of the Telegraph Cove Marina and April Beech.
Yesterday we found ourselves in the
middle of an almost unbelievable drama/whale/media
event that will be hard to describe or forget. A73, “Springer,” the
orphan killer whale that has attracted world-wide attention, arrived
aboard her private 140 foot catamaran from Seattle.
She made the trip that took us over a week in only 10 hours.
Then, to the accompaniment of a phenomenal array of scientists from
all areas of biology, beaurocrats from all departments of US and Canadian
governments, the RCMP, Canadian Coast Guard, Fisheries Law Enforcement,
First Nations representatives, and various other flotsam and jetsam,
Springer was hoisted from her Catamaran onto the deck of a crane barge and
along with about 40 handlers and animal health experts, brought her to her
new home, a 50 by 50 by 30 net pen set in an isolated bay on Hanson Island
near Telegraph Cove.
In spite of my obvious cynicism, it
was a genuinely impressive and memorable event.
Shadow had been asked by Vancouver Aquarium personnel to serve as
an observation platform (inside the “zone of exclusion”) and tied to
her pen for observers keeping twenty-four hour watch.
Shortly before Springer arrived, Chief Bill Cranmer from Alert Bay
and elders representing First Nations people arrived aboard to constitute
a welcoming committee. Their
war canoes were magnificent, with many paddlers in traditional clothing.
Also standing by were a large number of first nations peoples in
their purse sieners and many in traditional dress on the cliffs.
Springer lay quietly in her sling
on the barge as it maneuvered to the net pen.
Then as her care givers hovered she was given a final round of
medical tests, hoisted slowly up and over into the pen to be received by a
team of divers. Once out of
the sling, Springer took command. She
spy hopped, breeched, jumped, tail-flipped and generally cavorted like a
killer whale. Chief Cramer
and drummers conducted an impressive traditional welcoming ceremony.
Then the bay began to empty
quickly. It was the intention
of all the scientists and whale experts involved that Springer receive
minimum human contact once she had arrived safely.
Well before dark, a few remaining observers were aboard Shadow and
her crew and guests relaxed in the salon and rehashed all the day’s
excitement and potential perils and congratulations and thanks were
exchanged regarding the glories of the day.
Then we turned in while the whale team kept vigil.
With a hydrophone in the water we heard Springer continuing to
vocalize throughout the night.
This morning there has been a
steady stream of whale researchers from Canada and the US aboard,
recording Springer’s every splash and breath.
Everyone is waiting for her home pod to approach more closely.
Her relatives were near by this morning, but on the other side of
the island. When they move to
this side, it is expected that the sides of the pen will be dropped and
phase two of the saga will commence.
Yesterday was another banner day.
Mid morning a pod loosely related to Springer began to move into
the area. Closely monitored
by Paul and Helena at Orcalab and Alexandra Morton, as well as the various
other whale experts on scene, the pod began to move toward us.
Quickly Springer's handlers donned their dive suits and entered her
net pen. The nets were
tightened and radio transmitters were attached with suction cups to her
back. As we waited for a
final decision on her release, depending on identification of the pod and
their intentions, the excitement of everyone in the cove was intense.
Finally the decision came:
drop the nets. Ever so
quickly, this small mammal who had been the object of such intense care by
so many people was gone! A
cheer went up and wild cheering was everywhere.
It must have been a bitter-sweet moment for many people who had
devoted so much energy to her well-being to see her at last released and
Through the night Graham Ellis and
John Ford monitored her position. This
morning we are receiving moment by moment reports from Alex.
As I write, Springer appears to be in the general vicinity of a
pod, although the distance between them seems to be growing.
For more info on A73 and Orcas --
see the following web sites: