December 22, 2010. VANCOUVER – The first killer whale to be released into the wild after human intervention was recently spotted in good health north of Vancouver Island with the rest of its pod.
Ten-year-old Springer, found orphaned (ndlr Sibylline : at 24 months ???) and starving near the Seattle waterfront over eight years ago, was reported to be in excellent condition by research biologists.
The young whale’s recovery was made possible by the Vancouver Aquarium’s B.C. wild killer whale adoption program, which has funded research efforts for 18 years.
“Killer whales are an iconic species, the public care about them. But going out in boats is expensive and with the kind of research we do, we needed to find some way to fund it,” said Lance Barrett-Lennard, a senior marine mammal scientist and adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia.
“[Springer’s rescue] was to a great extent because of the research that we conducted and contributed to her over the years.”
The program raises between $60,000-$70,000 annually, and Barrett-Lennard estimated over 10,000 whales had been adopted.
“We’ve got quite a loyal following,” he said. “It provides people with the opportunity to symbolically adopt a killer whale and in so doing, support conservation-oriented research of the species.”