SeaWorld Orlando's Animal Rescue Team, along with several agencies, responded to 22 short-finned pilot whales that stranded at Florida’s Avalon State Park Beach in St. Lucie County this past weekend.
Early Wednesday morning, September 5, 2012, SeaWorld Orlando’s animal rescue team transported four short-finned pilot whales from Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU) Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute’s Rehabilitation Center in Ft. Pierce, Fla. to SeaWorld Orlando.
The juvenile whales, one male and three females, are the only surviving whales from a mass stranding event on Saturday, September 1, that included 22 short-finned pilot whales at Avalon State Park in St. Lucie County, on Florida’s southern east coast. The surviving whales received temporary care at FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute from animal expert teams from SeaWorld Orlando, Harbor Branch, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Marine Mammal Conservancy, University of Florida, Ocean Embassy as well as specially trained and qualified Harbor Branch team members and volunteers.
On arrival at SeaWorld Orlando, the young whales were placed in a quarantine area. They will continue to receive round-the-clock care from SeaWorld’s veterinarians and animal rescue staff. The whales, ranging in size from 130 to 325 pounds, are still in guarded condition. One of the whales – a female – is so young her teeth have not yet developed. SeaWorld’s animal experts plan to tube-feed the three older whales until they are able to eat fish.
At this time it is unclear why the group of whales stranded. Necropsies have been conducted on the deceased animals to determine possible causes.