A well-known northern resident killer whale’s second calf has survived its first two years and the Ocean Wise Marine Mammal Research Program is now asking the public help to name the animal.
Springer (officially A73) is a northern resident orca that showed up alone and in poor condition in Puget Sound in 2002. The Canadian and U.S. governments, scientists from both countries and animal care staff from Ocean Wise’s Vancouver Aquarium worked to rescue, rehabilitate and reunite her with her pod.
In 2013, Springer was seen with her first calf Spirit (A104). Now her second calf A116 has survived its first two years and Ocean Wise said it can be given a common name. The Whale Museum on San Juan Island gives the common names to the southern residents and the Ocean Wise Marine Mammal Research Program names the northern residents and some Bigg’s (transient) killer whales.
Whale researchers do not know the sex of the calf but they have narrowed down to these names:
- Spout (named after Spout Island near Hanson Island where Springer was released)
- Sointula (named after a village on Malcolm Island – means “place of harmony” in Finnish)
- Sutil (named after Sutil Channel near Quadra Island, south of Springer Point)
- Storm (named after Storm Rock in Fitz Hugh Sound where A116 was first seen)
Springer and her pod are part of the northern resident population of killer whales, which roam the waters off northern Vancouver Island and the mainland coast as far north as Alaska. There are 16 pods totalling more than 300 whales in this community of killer whales. Springer’s pod is one that researchers at the Marine Mammal Research Program have been monitoring since the 1980s. They are part of the longest continuous study of killer whales, which includes photo identification, acoustic and DNA analysis.
You can submit your vote for the name here before March 8.