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.

 

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SeaWorld Birthday Party and Cake

There’s so much to celebrate at SeaWorld… conservation, beauty, marine life, family. We enjoy it so much that when my son suggested a SeaWorld theme for his birthday party we were all for it! And the icing on the cake was, well, the cake!

I started out by baking two half sheet cakes in one flavor, and three 8-inch rounds in another (so chocolate lovers could have their favorite, and non-chocoholics were good to go, too). Not sure how a person does not like chocolate, but who’s to say?!

I made a strawberry filling for the yellow cake filling and a chocolate ganash for in between the chocolate layers.

The fondant was store-bought and I added blue food coloring until I got the just-right ocean-y feel! Meanwhile, a friend of mine helped by whipping up a batch of buttercream frosting. (Thanks MW for everything!) We had two bowls: one was for the blue color, and one was for white.

I rolled it out and covered the 8″ rounds that were now filled and stacked. Once the two large rectangles were similarly filled and layered, I covered that part of the cake with the blue buttercream icing. Then I placed the fondant-clad round off to one side, touching both a long and short side of the base cake.

The sides of both the round and base cakes were given a fresh garnish of additional white icing, just piped on really thick at the base. Then I put a fork into the blue gel food coloring I’d used to color the fondant. I pressed it into the white and made a wave-type of motion and… voila! The dark blue mixed with the white to create a pretty realistic wave, if I do say so myself.

Since I’m not a professional cake maker, I couldn’t sculpt the whale, penguin, and dolphin out of sugar or gumpaste or chocolate or any other edible product for that matter, I simply used three of my son’s “Little People” characters and made waves around them.

What was awesome and edible were the sharks, “baby” penguins, fish and rocks that completed the look. (Thanks again MW!) Purchased at a candy store, these little jimmies added dimension and were absolutely delicious. (I could eat a bag of the chocolate rocks right now!)

After pushing the gummy sharks into the sides of the “wave area,” covering the “ocean floor” with rocks, and placing the bright-colored fish into the “foam” of the water, all that was left was to write happy birthday. I used some more of the fondant and cut the letters with plastic alphabet shape cutters.

We had a “baby pool” filled with stuffed dolphins and whales. We even created a “Penguin Encounter” (as per my toddler) where all his penguins and puffins could line up and the people at the party had to walk by “real slow” so they could pretend they were on the conveyor belt.

“Daniel is Three. Celebrate with the Sea,” stated our invitation. Everyone had a “whale of a day” and ate lots sea-themed foods and ocean-blue punch. We then had our cake and ate it, too.

Sharks, Sea Dragons and our Pup at SeaWorld

As SeaWorld super fans, we were fortunate enough to have received the coolest costume from a friend… a shark. Our then 9-month-old looked adorable as we carried him through the theme park. (What? Were you expecting me to say we just had him wear it on Halloween?!)

First we went through the aquarium at Shark Encounter. Our little ferocious beastie pointed at all the creatures in the outer aquarium, and sat on the wall to gaze at the barracudas, daddy protectively holding him in his high vantage point. “See me? I’m a shark!” he seemed to tell the barracudas. “I scare YOU.”

Next we checked out the leafy sea dragons. It’s hard to believe they are alive, the blend in so well with the seaweed around them. Their camouflage is quite effective as they float through the water. My little guy wasn’t really that interested in them, they blended in so well. Eyes widened, however, as we entered the 60-foot glass tunnel. Directly overhead a huge shark swam. One tiny boy’s neck craned up. “OK. Now it’s your turn to scare me!” I’m pretty sure I heard him think.


Shhh. I'm hiding.

At the gift shop across the way it was our son’s turn to exhibit camouflage. Yes, we looked like dorks putting our child in a box of stuffed animals, but by gosh he was the cutest shark pup there! It kind of reminded me of that scene in E.T: The Extra Terrestrial when the alien blended in among the toys. That’s our little guy! The creature amidst the chondrichthyes.

SeaWorld’s Spooktacular is coming up. I’m sad we don’t have another shark costume for him to wear now that he’s a toddler. Maybe he’ll be some other sea creature this year. Maybe he’ll be a Longshoreman! Whatever costume we come up with, he’ll have fun collecting goodies and sweets. He’ll walk through the walls of bubbles and marvel at the seaweed-costumed characters on roller skates as they whiz past us. Hummmm. Maybe they’re actually leafy sea dragons. I wonder….

Cartilaginous Fish at SeaWorld

Daniel (3 1/2) could spend hours in the Manta Aquarium. He’s fascinated by their flight-like swimming abilities. “Look, there goes a cow nose!” he shouts, as a stingray glides by. (He’s learned about 4 or 5 varieties of rays, which for 3 years old is pretty good in my opinion.)

I learned recently (or I should say re-learned, as some Marine Biology class from my past most likely covered) that rays, skates, and sharks are closely related. (Don’t make me look up the Latin!) They’re “cartilaginous” fish. Basically, they’re the fish with no bones. And while sharks and rays swim and breathe differently, they are kissin’ cousins.

The Guitarfish is a type of ray. One look at the creature, and you’ll see why the “guitar”-part of its moniker fits perfectly. If you lifted it up from its narrow tail, you’d want to “strum” the flat part of its body between the pectoral fins. Do NOT try this at home! Actually, those wide wing-like pectoral fins help amateurs like myself tell them apart. Sharks use their mid-sized pectoral fins to steer them like a joystick… up, down, left, right. Rays do a sort of “breast stroke”, flying through the waters. Flutter. Flutter.

As we sit at the aquarium window’s edge, my family is filled with wonder, again, at these magnificent creatures. “Look! Here comes the Guitarfish,” Daniel squeals. The adults nearby look down at him.

“Isn’t that a shark?” one man asks.

“Nooooooo,” he assures them. And then, “See that one? That one there? It’s a Guitarfish. And THAT is a cow nose,” he adds as his favorite ray whooshes by.

The adult just shakes his head. “How does this toddler know this?” he probably wonders.