A killer whale called Springer is the first to have been captured and released and subsequently given birth in the wild. She was spotted with a calf on July 4 by biologist Graeme Ellis near Bella Bella on B.C.'s northern coast.
"We have been expecting her to give birth one of these years," Ellis told media. "She has just reached that age, and to me it was going to be the ultimate sign that this whole re-introduction was a success."
Springer's mother was known to have died in 2002 and following her death, Springer became separated from her pod, a rare and terrible event for a killer whale, especially a female killer whale, who would normally stay with her pod for her entire life.
She was living alone in Puget Sound and officials say she tried but failed to integrate with another pod and that she was falling into ill health. Before it was too late, U.S. authorities decided to capture her, believing if they did not she would die. They nursed her back to health and set A-73, as she was officially known, free off of the coast of Vancouver Island to reintegrate with A-4, as her pod was officially known, who live in that area.
That was successful, in part likely because she would have known the vocalizations of the pod, as each killer whale pod has unique vocalizations only they would know. Springer is not only the first captured and released killer whale to successfully give birth, she's also the first killer whale captured and released to successfully integrate back into nature.
Baby and calf are thought to be doing well. Biologists monitor Springer each year.