A73 GETTING HER VISA, July 8, 2002


Stanley Park, Vancouver B.C. - The Vancouver Aquarium and the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) announced today that Springer, the orphaned A-pod orca whale calf, will be returned to British Columbia this Friday, July 12, 2002. Springer (also known as A-73) is currently in a net pen near Manchester Pier in western Washington's Puget Sound.

"Springer will be brought home aboard a 144-foot powered catamaran 'Catalina Jet', procured as a donation for this effort by Project SeaWolf," says Bob McLaughlin, board member with the environmental advocacy group. "This specialized vessel, which is perfect for getting Springer back into Canadian waters quickly and safely, is being loaned to this project by the Nichols Brothers of Freeland, Washington."

"Getting Springer back to her home waters quickly is crucial to the overall success of this venture," adds Michael Kundu, Director of Project SeaWolf. "This entire effort is a vital, unprecedented learning process about whether we can effectively rehabilitate and reunite lost or estranged orcas with their birth-pods. We think we can, and we're now genuinely pleased to see the Canadians moving quickly and decisively on the recommendations made by the team of expert whale handlers, veterinarians and researchers assembled to conduct this rescue operation."

Since January 2002, when Springer was first sighted near Seattle, Washington, SeaWolf boardmembers Bob McLaughlin and Robert Wood have collected regular recorded data, and provided researchers and rescue team members with the use of our vessel observation platforms, to monitor the status of this whale. "It was vital that we accumulate rigourous scientific data about this strange event, and also to show that projects such as this rescue operation can be conducted at minimal expense to taxpayers," adds McLaughlin. "Our group has successfully managed to provide, or procure, many donations for this project, and we're eager to show that projects such as these are best managed when public, non-profit and government entities cooperate together."

After arriving in the Johnston Strait this weekend, it is expected that Springer will be placed in Dong Chong Bay, an enclosed bay near Telegraph Cove, British Columbia, until members of her family pod arrive in the area, at which time the sea pen will be opened for her to reunite with those pods.

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