Springer the killer whale is a celebrity.
Now 13 years old, Springer first captured worldwide attention after she was orphaned in 2001 at the age of two when her mother died.
She was known as A73 and a year after she was orphaned, she was spotted alone and sick near Seattle, hundreds of kilometres from her pod in northern B.C
The decision was made to rescue her, treat her and then return her to her original pod.
Just a couple of months into her treatment, researchers believed Springer was well enough to return to the west coast waters.
Springer was released when members of her matriline passed by the bay.
This was the first time that such a reintroduction had been attempted and Springer was slowly accepted back into the group.
Last year, researchers saw Springer, now 13, with her first calf. It was a sign that the killer whale remains in good health.
Known to scientists as A104, Springer’s calf was first spotted by the Vancouver Aquarium and the Marine Education Research Society around Spirit Island, near Bella Bella on the B.C. Central Coast.
Monitored as part of the world’s longest continuous study of killer whales, animals are identified through photo identification, and acoustic and DNA analysis.
After many suggestions, input and votes from the public, the Northern Resident Killer Whale naming committee agreed that Spirit was the best name for the calf.
The name fits with the tradition of naming northern resident killer whales after coastal places of some significance.