VANCOUVER - An orphaned killer whale who made headlines around the world when she was reunited with her pod off the coast of British Columbia has re-appeared — with her own thriving calf in tow.

Whale researchers spotted Springer this week in the Inside Passage off B.C.'s North Coast.

"They appear to be healthy and robust ... normal in every way," Lance Barrett-Lennard from Vancouver Aquarium's Marine Mammal Research Program, wrote in an email from the field. "Great stuff."

Springer — or A73 — was two in January 2002 when she was found in Puget Sound, near Seattle, ailing and separated from her pod of northern resident killer whales. Her mother was dead.

Unlikely to survive on her own, she was captured and confined in a huge ocean net pen for about a month while Canadian and American officials came up with a plan.

On July 13, 2002, Springer was transported by high-speed catamaran to Blackfish Sound, near Alert Bay off northern Vancouver Island, and held in a floating net pen until her pod appeared.

She is believed to be the first orca to be rescued, rehabilitated and successfully released back into the wild.

Springer and her calf — A104 — were first seen last year and the latest sighting is reassuring to biologists that the young whale has survived the most dangerous period of life for the animals.

"This sighting is great news for everyone interested in the welfare of killer whales off the west coast of North America — and will be particularly gratifying to those who were involved in the many aspects of Springer's identification, assessment, rescue, rehabilitation, transportation and release 12 years ago," Barrett-Lennard wrote to the aquarium.

The northern resident pod that remains year-round in the coastal waters of central and northern B.C. is listed as threatened in Canada.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the whales were listed as endangered.

Related on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Springer and Calf

    Springer, one of the most famous killer whales of the West Coast, has been spotted off B.C.'s coast with her first calf.

  • Springer and Calf

  • Springer and Calf

  • <strong>NEXT: Whales In Action</strong>

  • A humpback whale tail breaches off Sydney Heads at the beginning of whale watching season during a Manly Whale Watching tour on June 23, 2011 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

  • A humpback whale emerges from the surface of the Pacific Ocean at the Uramba Bahia Malaga natural park in Colombia, on July 22, 2011. (LUIS ROBAYO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • In this picture taken on September 23, 2011, an aquarium employee swims with a whale shark in an aquarium tank in the city of Yantai, northeastern Shandong province.

  • A humpback whale is seen breaching outside of Sydney Heads at the beginning of whale watching season during a Manly Whale Watching tour on June 23, 2011 in Sydney, Australia.

  • In this photo taken July 21, 2011, a baby gray whale is seen with its mother in the Klamath River in Klamath, Calif.

  • Female orca Wikie swims with her calf born by artificial insemination on April 19, 2011 at Marineland animal exhibition park in the French Riviera city of Antibes, southeastern France.

  • An 8.5 metre-long juvenile humpback whale remains stranded on Anaconda beach in La Paloma, department of Rocha, in southeastern Uruguay, on January 27, 2011. AFP

  • A humpback whale is seen breaching outside of Sydney Heads at the beginning of whale watching season during a Manly Whale Watching tour on June 23, 2011 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

  • The tail of a humpback whale emerges from the surface of the Pacific Ocean at the Uramba Bahia Malaga natural park in Colombia, on July 22, 2011. (LUIS ROBAYO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Watch As Whale Jumps Out Of Water And Bumps Canoe

    A couple canoeing in Maui film the moment when a breaching whale his their canoe while paddling out in the ocean.