On September 1, 2012, a pod of 22 pilot whales stranded themselves on the beach at Avalon State Park in St. Lucie County. Tragically, 18 of the 22 died in the incident, which is still being investigated to determine what might have caused the mass beaching. But there is good news for four of the whales -- Sea World Orlando's conservation and rescue team has stepped in to try to save the lives of the young whales.
The four cetacian survivors were transported from Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Rehabilitation Center early Wednesday morning (September 5); the arrived at Sea World Orlando in guarded condition and are being watched closely for any signs of illness or distress. Here's the official word from Sea World's Conservation Blog:
"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."
If the whales improve (fingers crossed!), it might be possible for them to join two other pilot whales that have been in Sea World's care since last year -- two females rescued from another mass stranding in the Florida Keys in May of 2011.
SeaWorld Orlando’s Animal Rescue Team is on call 24/7 to save and care for injured, orphaned or ill animals. They have saved more than 20,000 animals to date, with the majority of those animals successfully returned to the wild.