Robson Bight, Springer has returned

Thank you Paul and Helena for sending this update.

November 14 2007

Hello everyone,

We have good Springer news... Springer has returned to Johnstone Strait, and she looks great!

Almost 3 anxious months have passed since the tragic oil spill in Robson Bight, which exposed fully 25% of the Northern resident orca community to toxic diesel fumes. Springer’s family, the A4 pod, was one of the groups which spent several hours amidst a dense diesel fog in Robson Bight the night after the incident. During the 2 weeks that followed, none of the A4s, including Springer, displayed obvious symptoms. But just the same, we were worried about them, and when they left we wondered if we would see all of them again.

Two months later, on November 7th, we heard the welcome sounds of the A4 pod in Blackfish Sound once more. We thought the calls were probably from Springer’s adoptive family, her great aunt Yakat’s group within the A11 matriline, though we couldn’t confirm their presence visually. An A5 group was with them, and a couple of days later they were joined by Scimitar’s A12 family. On November 10th, we were able to see all 3 groups as they headed slowly north through Blackney Pass against a strongly flooding tide. The groups were quite mixed up, but we were fairly sure that all of the A12s, all of the A8s, and all of Yakat’s group (including Springer) were there. We managed to get photographs of most of the orcas, to confirm their identities. All the behaviour looked, at least superficially, to be normal. The youngsters were in a playful mood, splashing about and flipping their flukes, and several of the orcas spent time foraging as they entered Blackfish Sound. Springer was traveling with her close cousins Nahwitti (A56) Current (A79) and Echo (A55). She appeared energetic, and her skin condition was the best we’ve ever seen it.

Needless to say, seeing Springer and more than a dozen (16) of the 58 orcas who were impacted by the August 20th oil spill was heartwarming and reassuring. It’s far too early to say that the orcas are all out of danger, but we can say that 3 months after the incident, everyone in these 3 families looks fine. That’s good news.

Meanwhile, on the oil spill investigation front, the investigation that we said was “imminent” 2 weeks ago is still imminent, though not moving forward as quickly as we had hoped. “Soon” is a tricky word, with lots of escape room in it, but we do expect an announcement about the contract to be made soon, and as soon as possible after that, the investigation will happen. Given the series of winter storms that has pounded the BC coast recently, we know that weather will play a big role in what happens next.

One final note. To follow Springer’s story as it unfolds, you can “adopt” Springer via the Born Free Foundations Springer adoption. Visit and click on the link to Born Free. Most of the funds generated by this programme support OrcaLab’s ongoing work.

Please do anything you wish with this story. It will be posted on our OrcaLab web site ( along with some current photos, later today.

As ever, this comes with our fingers crossed & best wishes to you all,

Paul & Helena

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