SeaWorld Orlando, Georgia Aquarium and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Return Rehabilitated Dolphin Attacked by Shark

Bottlenose dolphin found with life-threatening shark bite injuries gets a second chance at life

ORLANDO, Fla. (June 29, 2018) – Yesterday, members of the SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Team and the Georgia Aquarium Conservation Field Station, along with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) returned “Sharkie” to the ocean near St. Augustine, Fla. after an intense four month rehabilitation at SeaWorld Orlando. The 265 lb. sub-adult Atlantic bottlenose dolphin was rescued in February on Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. after FWC reached out for assistance due to the animal’s life-threatening injuries. Georgia Aquarium Conservation Field Station veterinarian, Dr. Rose Borkowski was on scene alongside FWC and conferred with NOAA Fisheries after assessing the animal and the decision was made to transport the animal to SeaWorld Orlando’s Cetacean Rehabilitation Facility.

The dolphin, which had sustained multiple shark bite wounds to her body and right pectoral flipper and was suffering from pneumonia, was successfully transported to SeaWorld Orlando where she has been receiving rehabilitation care for the past four months.

“Georgia Aquarium Conservation Field Station is proud to be a part of the initial rescue and release of this dolphin following its lengthy rehabilitation. Now, seeing it healthy enough to be released shows the dedication and hard work by all those involved,” said George Biedenbach, director of the Georgia Aquarium Conservation Field Station. “Our goal is to always assist animals in need as best we can, no matter the circumstances and we’re glad to see another animal thriving. Every animal counts and it’s through collaborative work like this that we can ensure the health and safety of so many ocean animals.”

“This is a very exciting day for us. To see this animal in the state she was in, bitten by sharks, emaciated, in trouble and with life threatening injuries, to as healthy as she is now to swim back out in the ocean, it’s just a wonderful day and that’s why we do this,” said Jon Peterson, Manager of SeaWorld Rescue Operations.

During her stay, SeaWorld veterinarians and the Animal Rescue Team provided 24-hour care to the dolphin, treating her with antibiotics, dewormers, anti-inflammatories, physical therapy and wound care. Prior to her release, the dolphin was fitted with a satellite tag which will enable stranding network partner organizations to continue to monitor her.

The dolphin passed a major milestone in her journey to return when she passed a hearing test in April administered by NOAA Fisheries with the help of SeaWorld. The testing showed the dolphin has full hearing through the entire frequency range necessary for echolocation. It is important for dolphins undergoing rehabilitation to pass a hearing test to ensure hearing loss was not a factor in their stranding. Hearing loss is detrimental to wild dolphins, as they rely on echolocation to hunt, navigate and avoid predators.

SeaWorld Orlando’s Animal Rescue Team is on call 24/7 to save and care for injured, orphaned or ill animals. In collaboration with NOAA Fisheries and other members of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment operates one of the world’s most respected programs authorized to rescue ill and injured marine animals, with the goal to rehabilitate and return them to the ocean. SeaWorld animal experts have helped more than 31,000 animals in need – ill, injured, orphaned and abandoned – for more than five decades.

Footage of rescued dolphins produced by SeaWorld under the National Marine Fisheries Service Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program.

 

About Georgia Aquarium Conservation Field Station

Georgia Aquarium Conservation Field Station (GA-CFS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Marineland, Fla. GA-CFS is dedicated to research and stranding response of dolphins, small whales, and turtles in northeast Florida and focuses on research and conservation. The team at GA-CFS supports Georgia Aquarium research projects both in the field and on-location and provides unique expertise and experience. GA-CFS exists to increase public awareness and contribute to the scientific study of aquatic life and provides educational outreach to local communities and schools. For more information visit www.georgiaaquarium.org/conserve

 

About SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ is a leading theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. The company is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, behavioral training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company collectively cares for what it believes is one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals. The company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld® rescue team has helped more than 31,000 animals in need over the last 50 years.

The company owns or licenses a portfolio of recognized brands including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens® and Sea Rescue®. Over its more than 50-year history, the company has built a diversified portfolio of 12 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of-a-kind zoological collection. The company’s theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is a wholly owned subsidiary of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., a publicly traded company. Visit www.seaworldentertainment.com for more information.

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TurtleTrek Welcomes Big Mama and Caton

Rehabilitated turtles Big Mama and Caton make it to SeaWorld's TurtleTrek.In 2010 the nation’s attention was on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, one that would impact (and continues to impact) the environment and animals that call the Gulf home. One animal rescued off the coast of Louisiana was a female loggerhead turtle. Big
Mama, as she came to be called due to her 245-pound size, has been receiving care
from the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS) in Gulfport, MS since her arrival August 4, 2010.

20130705_Big-Mama-Turtle-Exam_04Big Mama had bite wounds and was missing parts of her front and hind flippers. Because of these injuries, she was unable to swim properly, making it impossible for her to survive in the wild. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deemed her non-releasable in 2012.

The IMMS worked with other agencies to find a more permanent home where she could have a larger habitat and interact with other animals, and so she could educate others with her story.

20130705_Big-Mama-Turtle-Exam_04Caton, a 95-pound subadult, was initially found stranded in 2009 on Ossabaw Island and was treated by the Georgia Sea Turtle Center (GSTC). In December she was considered healthy enough to be returned to the wild, but Caton had other plans. The subadult female loggerhead was taken to the warm waters of Cape Canaveral National Seashore. Rather than swimming off, Caton just sat there, prompting a return to the GSTC for a few more months rehabilitation. In a second attempt, Caton became stuck on a sandbar after unsuccessfully swimming back and forth in the shallows. In October 2012 she was released again to deep water, but one week later, reports of a loggerhead stranding led to Caton, again stranded on the beach.

Wildlife government officials involved, agree that Caton was unreleasable. Terry Norton, veterinarian and director of the center, agreed. “If an unreleasable sea turtle can survive comfortably in a captive setting, the center will make every attempt to place the turtle in a suitable facility,’’ he said.

turtletrekBig Mama and Caton will now have a new home at TurtleTrek, SeaWorld along with 14 other rescued sea turtles, including a hawksbill, 10 green and three other loggerheads who have all been deemed unreleasable. These animals will welcome guests at SeaWorld Orlando and will educate them about wildlife conservation. Together they will share the message that conservation is everyone’s responsibility. They’ll encourage each person to make a difference, and become “Everyday Heroes” through their day-to-day actions.

In collaboration with the government and other members of accredited stranding networks, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment operates one of the world’s most respected programs to rescue ill and injured marine animals, with the goal to rehabilitate and return to the waters. SeaWorld animal experts have helped more than 22,000 animals in need – ill, injured, orphaned and abandoned – for more than four decades.

 

So far this year, SeaWorld Orlando has rescued 52 and returned 45 sea turtles.

Live Broadcast Today

SeaWorld animal care experts have helped more than 22,000 animals in need over the past four decades, many of which have been manatees. Today [Thursday, July 18], four of those special creatures will be released LIVE at 10 a.m. ET! Pipsqueak, Braille, Nitty and Asaka will return to the waters of Eddy Creek in Brevard County, Florida and for the first time SeaWorld will broadcast the event! Animal enthusiasts from around the world can watch the event as it’s happening (Click here).

Manatees in rehabilitation pools at SeaWorld, Orlando

Manatees in rehabilitation pools at SeaWorld, Orlando

Braille, Nitty and Pipsqueak suffered mild cold stress last December after getting caught in the mosquito impoundment in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  They are doing so well with rehabilitation, they’re packing up and getting ready to roll!

Impoundments are earthen dikes that allow control over how
much water stands in the area to limit the number of mudflats,
so mosquitoes have fewer places to lay eggs and breed.

This past March, Asaka suffered from buoyancy issues which led to her rescue by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) from the Indian River in Merritt Island, Florida. While at SeaWorld, her buoyancy issues were resolved.

Buoyancy is the ability to float or rise when submerged in a liquid. Manatees
do not have swim bladders, and use their lungs to maintain “neutral
buoyancy” and their horizontal position while they graze.
Without this ability, they cannot properly feed.

Cleared for release, the four manatees will be fitted with a satellite tag that will allow the FWC to monitor the animals’ movements to ensure their success.

SeaWorld’s animal rescue team, along with Canaveral National Seashore and FWC team members, will participate in the release. Tune in, or follow on FaceBook, Twitter and Instagram.

If you see injured marine animal, you can help by calling the
FWC hotline at 1(888) 404-3922 or by dialing *FWC on a cellular device.

Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles Returned This Morning

release three kemps ridleys

After a several months of rehabilitation after cold stress, three Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles were medically cleared and returned to Playalinda Beach at Canaveral Seashore this morning (June 27, 2013).

Two of the turtles had pneumonia and the third had a small wound to its carapace (shell). According to SeaWorld, “The Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles measured approximately 70 centimeters in length and weighed 7 – 10 pounds, all gaining approximately 3-6 pounds” while at SeaWorld.

The turtles were part of a group of 36 brought to SeaWorld Orlando by the U.S. Coast Guard on December 23, 2012 from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Of the 36, this release marks a total of 34 of them being returned to the sea.

SeaWorld Kemp's RidleySo far this year, SeaWorld Orlando has rescued 45 sea turtles and returned 35.

If you see an injured marine animal, you can help by calling the
FWC hotline at 1(888) 404-3922 or by dialing *FWC on a cellular device.

All turtle rescue footage produced by SeaWorld under FWS Permit Number MA7701911

Manatees Rescued from Merritt Island

SeaWorld manatee rescue December 2012This past week SeaWorld Orlando Animal Rescue Team has been involved in rescuing three manatees trapped in waterways in Merritt Island National Refuge where they were unable to navigate back out. Each exhibited symptoms of cold stress.

121218_manatee_4 121218_manatee_3 121218_manatee_2 121218_manatee_1

The manatees, one male and two female, were taken back to SeaWorld Orlando where they were assessed. Blood samples were taken and all will be monitored closely for the next few days while they receive exceptional care and a healthy diet.

SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment works in collaboration with the government and other accredited stranding agencies to rescue ill and injured marine animals. In 2012 they have rescued 19 manatees, 10 of which have already been returned to their natural habitat.121218_manatee_6

If you see injured marine animal, you can help by calling the
FWC hotline at 1(888) 404-3922 or by dialing *FWC on a cellular device.

All photos courtesy SeaWorld Orlando through footage produced by SeaWorld under FWS Permit Number MA7701911.

Four Surviving Pilot Whales Arrive at SeaWorld

The four surviving Pilot whales from the September 1 stranding arrive at SeaWorld Orlando.                                                            All images courtesy SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld Orlando’s animal rescue team transported four pilot whales from Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute to SeaWorld this morning (September 5, 2012). The juvenile short-finned pilot whales, one malePilot Whale being lifted up and three females, were part of the mass stranding earlier this week at Avalon State Park in Ft. Pierce. Experts from Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute cared for the animals temporarily alongside members of the SeaWorld Orlando’s animal care team, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Marine Mammal Conservancy, University of Florida, Ocean Embassy as well as trained volunteers worked tirelessly to help the whales stabilize for their trip this morning to SeaWorld Orlando. Once there, the whales were quarantined for additional observation and treatment.Whale Stranding taking notes

Veterinarians and rescue staff will care for the whales 24 hours a day, including tube-feeding those who are young and unable to eat fish yet.

It is still undetermined why the pod stranded on September 1. Necropsies may shed light on the reason, but it is possible the cause could remain a mystery.

The whales are carefully lifted out of the tanks at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute’s Rehabilitation Center…

Then are carefully lowered into the rehabilitation quarantine pool at SeaWorld Orlando.

Manatee Born at SeaWorld Orlando

A sonogram taken July 20 clearly shows the calf’s spine and a heartbeat.

The pregnant manatee rescued in Merritt Island, FL on June 8 (read about it here) gave birth to a healthy calf July 18, 2012, sometime between 3 and 6 a.m. Both mother and baby are said to be doing well. The newborn is healthy, nursing and swimming close to its mother. SeaWorld’s Animal Care team has the pair under 24-hour surveillance.

The new baby gives its mom a little kiss!

The newborn calf sticks its tongue out, probably still “rooting.”

New calf bonding with mom in a back area pool at SeaWorld, Orlando.

Two Turtles Released by SeaWorld at Canaveral National Seashore

The SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team went to Canaveral National Seashore today (July 17, 2012) to release two sea turtles that were rescued in February of this year.

The larger of the two, a 140-pound loggerhead turtle rescued from Melbourne Beach, was brought to SeaWorld after what was most likely a boat-strike injury. It received a thorough checkup, x-rays, andtibiotics and extensive treatment. Despite their best efforts, part of the turtle’s carapace, or shell, was lost.

The smaller green sea turtle was found beached at Canaveral National Seashore after having been caught in fishing line. Veterinarians cared for the injuries on its front flippers and neck with weekly treatments until it was healthy enough to be returned.

SeaWorld animal experts work tirelessly to help animals in need. With turtles that includes ensuring they are returned to the beach where they were found. Dan Conklin, SeaWorld Aquarium Supervisor said that “This is one of the most important nesting grounds on the planet for Loggerhead Sea Turtles.”

Rescued Manatee is Pregnant

Pedro Ramos-Navarrate, Supervisor of Animal Care, and SeaWorld Animal Care Experts steady the female manatee in the rescue boat.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission rescue team members work alongside SeaWorld rescue and rehabilitation workers to transport the injured female manatee rescued near Cocoa Beach, FL.

The 10-foot manatee rescued on June 8 from Sykes Creek in Merritt Island, FL from crab trap line injuries has been determined to be pregnant by SeaWorld animal care experts.

After assessing and treating her injuries to her right flipper, the 1,400-pound adult was given an ultrasound which confirmed the animal care expert’s suspicion (based on her large size). Manatees usually have a 12 month gestation period, though it is unknown exactly how far along she is at present.

Stranded Baby Dolphin Rescued by SeaWorld’s Animal Care Team

A baby dolphin, believed to be just 5 days old and with his umbilical cord still attached, was rescued Sunday, May 20, 2012 near Three Sisters Island in Volusia County. The male calf weighed slightly less than 35 pounds and was found in shallow waters under a mangrove.

Initial tests revealed no major health issues, but SeaWorld’s animal team will manually tube-feed the newborn every two hours. Dolphin calves usually nurse for 12 to 18 months.

“Dolphin calves typically nurse from their mother until they are 12 to 18 months old.”

Pedro Ramos-Navarrate, Supervisor of Animal Care, along with SeaWorld’s animal team are working tirelessly to ensure the calf continues to grow and thrive.

This successful rescue was the result of a team of Animal experts and volunteers. The Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute initially examined the dolphin. Once NOAA Fisheries Service authorized his rescue, SeaWorld’s animal rescue team brought the baby dolphin to SeaWorld for care.

SeaWorld’s animal rescue team is on call 24/7 to save and care for injured, orphaned or ill animals. This is the first bottlenose dolphin to be rescued this year.