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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Dolphin Attacked by Shark Continues to Receive Care at SeaWorld

SeaWorld Dolphin shark attack 1

All photo from footage of rescued dolphins produced by SeaWorld under the National Marine Fisheries Service Marine Mammal Health and Response Program.

An Atlantic bottlenose dolphin that was attacked by a shark in late February off Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida and became stranded as a result of the injuries continues to receive treatment at SeaWorld Orlando.

The 265 lb. sub-adult dolphin was assessed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) who determined that a rescue and rehabilitation attempt was necessary due to the animal’s life-threatening injuries. Members of the SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Team and the Georgia Aquarium Conservation Field Station (based at Marineland) worked alongside to care for the badly injured dolphin. Conservation Field Station veterinarian, Dr. Rose Borkowski conferred with NOAA Fisheries Service about the animal’s condition after the assessment and the decision was made to transport the animal to SeaWorld Orlando for rehabilitation.

At time of the rescue, SeaWorld veterinarian Dr. Lara Croft described the dolphin as being in “critical condition,” based on the “extensiveness of this animal’s shark bite wounds” and how thin she was. The dolphin sustained multiple shark bite wounds to her body and right pectoral flipper.

20180406 SeaWorld Dolphin shark attack 2The dolphin was successfully transported to SeaWorld Orlando’s Cetacean Rehabilitation Facility for further evaluation and rehabilitation. After an initial veterinary exam and treatment, the dolphin was able to swim unsupported at the park’s rescue facility.

Through the course of her treatment, SeaWorld Orlando veterinarians discovered that in addition to shark bite wounds the dolphin was suffering from pneumonia. Over the last month, SeaWorld veterinarians and the Animal Rescue Team have been treating her with antibiotics, dewormers, anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, and wound care.

This week, veterinarians performed radiographs to confirm if the antibiotics and treatment are clearing up the pneumonia. They will continue to monitor and run additional tests to confirm.

Once her pneumonia clears, the next milestones for her rehabilitation will be for her to continue to gain weight and strength and pass a hearing test. All rescued cetaceans must pass a hearing test administered by NOAA Fisheries to ensure hearing loss was not a factor in their stranding. Hearing loss is detrimental to wild cetaceans as they rely on echolocation to hunt, navigate, and avoid predators.

The SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team and veterinarians will continue to provide 24-hour care and treatment, with the ultimate goal to rehabilitate and return her to the wild.

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 accredited stranding networks, 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 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 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.