Saturday, July 07, 2012

BC celebrates 10th anniversary of Springer's rescue

It's an anniversary that has been celebrated at the Vancouver Aquarium and Seattle's Alki Beach Bathhouse, and now British Columbia is again joining in the festivities. Celebrate Springer is being held in BC's Telegraph Cove July 12-15, 2012 to mark the 10th anniversary of the only successful rescue of a killer whale and subsequent reunion with its family. The four-day celebration at the north end of Vancouver Island honors the orphan Springer (A73), now 12 years old, and who has been sighted recently on the central BC coast. Organizers are hoping she will make her annual return to Johnstone Strait with her extended family of Northern Resident killer whales during the celebration. Highlights include:

  • Environmental Fair
  • Whale Interpretive Center
  • July 13-15
  • Panel Discussion - Springer's Story and Why It Matters
  • Whale Interpretive Center
  • Saturday, July 14, 9:30 AM
  • Salmon BQ
  • Boardwalk
  • Saturday, July 14, 1 PM
Panelists for the Saturday morning discussion include John Ford, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) marine mammal scientist; Joe Scordino, former NOAA Fisheries Deputy Administrator; Vancouver Aquarium marine mammal scientist Lance Barrett-Lennard, and The Whale Trail's executive director Donna Sandstrom. Moderator will be retired People for Puget Sound founder and director Kathy Fletcher.

As a two-year old orphan, Springer appeared in Puget Sound in January 2002 near Vashon Island after becoming separated from her family. The little whale was 300 miles from home. Six months later, she was rescued and rehabilitated in Puget Sound, transported by jet catamaran to Dong Chong Bay near Hanson Island and released to the wild and reunited with her family on July 14, 2002. According to DFO marine mammal scientist John Ford, a number of things came together to make the reunion a success, including the donation of a jet catamaran to get her home quickly. Springer's family showed up much soon than expected. "She eventually was able to keep up with them," said Ford, "and by the end of summer she was acting like a normal whale."

The Whale Trail's Donna Sandstrom calls Springer's reunion an unqualified success and the only project of its kind in history. But there's a shadow in the celebration. "Today our Southern resident orcas are in trouble," said Sandstrom. "We hope Springer's success inspires people to join us in working on issues facing orcas today with the same urgency, commitment and resolve." For more information on Celebrate Springer, go to the Celebrate Springer Facebook page and The Whale Trail. 

Springer (A-73) with her relative Sunny (A-70) and Sunny's calf in the summer of 2011 when they returned to the Johnstone Strait. Photo by Leah Robinson.

1 comment:


The 10th Anniversary and The True Hero Springer

Springer was a very lucky orca with Sea World, the Vancouver Aquarium and questionable orca protection folks being involved.

Any Sea World attempts to "rescue" Springer by claiming that he must be put in captivity was stopped because they are banned in Washington from participating in any action to remove orca from Puget Sound as per the 1976 legal settlement after their horrible captures.

So then the scene moved to Canada and an attempt was made by the Vancouver Aquarium to keep Springer in a sea pen at their research station near Vancouver - far from his family. They phoned Lifeforce to try to get support but Peter Hamilton, Director, told them that he thought they would find some reason to imprisoned Springer for life and this orca must be returned to his northern territory. (Note: Later there was another lone orca, “Luna”, who should have been returned to her family L pod. There was also a secret plan to send him to Marineland, Ontario.)

Two US orca protection groups wanted Springer left in Puget Sound. One wanted human interaction with structured play (that had later contributed to the death of “Luna”) while another said let Springer die there instead of an attempt to rescue.

Thankfully the US based, Orca Conservancy, and other true orca protection organizations moved quickly and got the location where Springer's family travels and within days Springer was reunited. This was in spite of attempts made to exclude these activists. The rest is history in spite of any aquariums' and misguided NGOs claims to be the heroes.

Peter Hamilton, Lifeforce, adds, “We must remember that the Vancouver Aquarium started the captivity of orcinus orca. They hired people to harpoon and kill an orca to use as a model for a sculpture in their hallway. The orca didn't die so was painfully towed from Saturna Island to Vancouver Harbour by the rope attached to the harpoon. They tried to feed him horsemeat, live and dead chickens, and other animals. After an 86 day ordeal he died. Then plans were made to try to capture and display orcas. This led to the capture of 68 orcas with at least 13 others drowning during the violent captures. The future of these now endangered orcas is threatened in part due to these captures that wiped out a whole generation. They lost a generation of young orcas. They now have a low birth rate and an abnormal age and sex ratio.

Further, there have been 38 deaths of dolphins since 1964. This includes at least 9 orcas, 7 narwhals, 9 Belugas, and 13 Pacific white-sided dolphins. The Vancouver Aquarium continues to promote the capture and imprisoned of dolphins. They have belugas who they captured in Canada and Pacific white-sided dolphins from the notorious whaling country Japan. They have even promoted Sea World “Dine with Shamu” (orcas).”

“There would be no celebration without Springer. A year after her mother had died, Springer was alone and emaciated off Seattle waters many miles from home,” stated Peter Hamilton, Lifeforce Founder, “She had the will to survive against all odds that included a possible life in captivity. Now, after all the aquarium naysayers were proven to be wrong, there is Springer who is the true hero. Springer symbolizes why the imprisonment of whales and dolphins must end!”

For further information: Peter Hamilton,


More about Vancouver Aquarium:

Help stop the Vancouver Aquarium expansion. Email the Vancouver Parks Board (, the Vancouver Mayor and Council ( and your Federal and Provincial Politicians.

More Pools Means More Captives with Your Tax Money!

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