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ORCA RESCUE! by Donna Sandstrom Kirkus Star


The True Story of an Orphaned Orca Named Springer

by Donna Sandstrom ; illustrated by Sarah Burwash

Pub Date: Oct. 5th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-5253-0117-9
Publisher: Kids Can

Orca activist Sandstrom details the 2002 rescue of an orphaned juvenile separated from her northern resident pod in British Columbia.

After she’s sighted in Washington’s Puget Sound, regional experts work at identification. Orcas live in tightly bonded pods; individuals’ unique dorsal fin shapes, saddle patches, and calls are well documented by researchers. A hydrophone records this orca’s call, keying it to the A4 pod. Photos corroborate her identity as Springer, born in 2000. She and her mother had failed to return to Johnstone Strait with their pod in 2001. Springer’s reappearance sets off an extraordinary rescue and pod reunion involving citizen and professional scientists, nonprofits, U.S. and Canadian governmental agencies, and First Nations and Native American tribal members. Sandstrom is key in organizing financial and in-kind support for the complex rescue, helping to build the Orphan Orca Fund, a coalition of seven nonprofits. Combining eyewitness experiences with solid research, her narrative delivers a clear, month-by-month account of Springer’s rescue, imparting an exciting immediacy. Burwash’s appealing illustrations provide valuable detail. Between first sighting and ultimate reunion, Springer is assessed, monitored, weighed, dewormed, and twice transported to holding net pens. Fascinatingly quickly, experts detect A4 pod’s calls—and Springer’s response. Within 24 hours of Springer’s Canadian homecoming, A4 pod arrives, and Springer is released. Sandstrom recounts subsequent reunions—human and cetacean—and the marvelous news of Springer’s two calves. Cogent topical interludes provide historical and scientific background.


(maps, matriline, human-made threats, photos, how to help, glossary, bibliography, websites, team participants, author’s note) (Nonfiction. 6-12)