(1st three photos by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
One event that did NOT get rained out today – the Alki Bathhouse celebration of the 10th anniversary of Springer the orca’s family reunion, hosted by West Seattle-headquartered The Whale Trail. Above, a Springer likeness at the kids’ activities table; attendees of all ages listened to memories of what it took to get Springer safely home to her family in Canada, after she was found hundreds of miles away in Puget Sound:
As recounted on The Whale Trail’s website, “Two governments and hundreds of people worked together to get the little whale home. But the final step was up to the orcas – Would her family recognize her? Would they accept her back?” They did – and that is why the achievement, and Springer’s ongoing life with her family, is cause to celebrate:
Springer is a northern resident orca, belonging to a group separate from her Puget Sound cousins, southern resident orcas. The northern residents are believed to number more than 200, more than twice the size of the southern residents, which are officially listed as endangered. Groups like The Whale Trail are working to educate people about how to help them survive; that’s why, as part of today’s event, TWT dedicated new signage you’ll find in West Seattle – placed along the shore, where you can watch whales in a way that impacts them the least:
The Whale Trail provided that photo, noting that, “George Taylor, sons and members of the Le-La-La First Nations dance company performed a killer whale mask dance and other traditional ‘Kwakwakakw dances. Members of the group from a canoe in Dong Chong Bay greeted Springer with the same mask when she returned home 10 years ago.”
ADDED 11:55 PM: Thanks to Alki photographer David Hutchinson for this view of the mask as the dancers performed inside the bathhouse:
P.S. If you weren’t here and/or don’t remember the coverage of the rescue and reunion – there’s some archive video in this recent story by Canada’s CTV that’s viewable via YouTube.