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 male 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.
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.
Saturday, September 1 in the afternoon, a pod of 22 pilot whales stranded themselves in Ft. Pierce, Florida at Avalon Beach State Park (St. Lucie County). Members of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Marine Mammal Conservancy, University of Florida, Florida Fish and Wildlife, Harbor Branch, SeaWorld, as well as many, many locals who were in the area tried to save as many of the whales as possible. Despite their best efforts, only 5 juvenile whales survived, two males and three females.
Pilot Whales form tight-knit groups. Scientists aren’t certain why some pods beach themselves, but the predominant theory is that the lead whale either becomes sick or injured, and they stick by him. Even when rescuers attempt to push whales back into the water, they re-beach themselves which is why transport of the surviving whales was necessary.
According to a SeaWorld statement, “The goal is for the whales to transition to SeaWorld Orlando for long-term care, and ultimately be returned back to the ocean.”
If you see an injured or orphaned marine animal, call the FWC hotline at 1-888-404-3922 or dial *FWC on a mobile device.