It usually doesn’t work. When humans interfere with nature, the results are usually not good for nature.
So when several people from a diverse range of groups came together in 2002 to save a young wayward orca in Puget Sound, a tide of skepticism rolled in. The plan was to capture the young female orca and take her to rejoin her pod some 250 miles away. Complicating factors included the fact that Springer was not well. She was also getting dangerously close to boats and ferries; she was too young to make it on her own.
As Michael Harris of the Pacific Whale Watch Association, puts it, “Some activists wanted to leave her alone, hoping that somehow she’d find her way home. Marine parks took an interest in the young resident orca. But other groups, including OrcaLab, the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation and Orca Conservancy, successfully persuaded NOAA Fisheries to directly intervene, capture the orca and return her to her family in BC.”
It worked and today Harris announced “Springer,” the once-orphaned orca, has a calf. The orca calf was spotted on July 4th with its mother off the central coast of Vancouver Island, BC. That leaves no doubt the young whale was accepted by and is thriving with her pod.
It’s an unlikely outcome. Some of the groups cooperating on the rescue would not sit together in the same room much less share boats and resources. And capturing an orca without injuring is difficult; keeping it alive during a long journey and getting it back together with its pod, well, that’s unheard of.
Does that sound skeptical? It should, I was. Now I’m just amazed.