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Pilot Whale Released Back To Sea After Rehabilitation At SeaWorld

12 August 2017, 9:07 am EDT By Athena Chan Tech Times
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A short-finned pilot whale was found beached in Dixie County last July 1. SeaWorld Orlando, NOAA, and the U.S. Coast Guard worked together to bring "Gale" back to her natural habitat.   ( SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica & Discovery Cove | YouTube )

Last July, a pilot whale beached itself on the shores of Dixie County in Florida. After five weeks of rehabilitation in SeaWorld Orlando, the pilot whale was finally released back into the wild.

Quick Rescue For Gale

On Aug. 8, a female short-finned pilot whale weighing 725-pounds got a second chance to live a healthy life in the sea after the Coastguard, SeaWorld, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) worked together to release her back into the wild.

Her journey started last July 1 when beachgoers found that a pilot whale, now affectionately called Gale, was beached in Dixie County. A rescue team from Clearwater Marine Aquarium and the University of Florida quickly responded to the whale rescue and brought her to SeaWorld Orlando where she immediately received 24-hour treatment.

Fortunately, Gale was responsive to the treatments, and showed signs of improvement almost immediately. Within the day, she was able to swim on her own again, and by the next day, she was able to eat fish.

Back To The Wild

Plans for her return to the wild were quickly drawn up, with 140-miles off the coast of Florida as the location of choice for her release as it is known to be populated with other pilot whales.

Naturally, a feat as important as this required a lot of coordination and effort, so SeaWorld, together with NOAA searched for a large sea vessel to help bring Gale back home. Luckily, the U.S. Coast Guard was gracious enough to lend a hand for the mission.

"We are honored to have the chance to take part in the release of Gale back to her natural habitat," said Lt. Cmdr. Jeremy Montes of the Coast Guard.

With everything planned and in place, the team went ahead with the mission on Aug. 8 and successfully brought Gale back to the wild. Before she was released, however, she was tagged by the Chicago Zoological Society's Sarasota Dolphin Research Program with a satellite-linked transmitter to keep track of her and her movements in the months to come.

"This story has been a true collaboration and we worked together with many dedicated partners. We are proud to be a part of this rescue, rehabilitation and successful release. This truly is why we all do what we do," said Dr. Lara Croft, veterinarian at SeaWorld Orlando.

Pilot Whales

As aforementioned, Gale is a short-finned pilot whale. In the whale family, pilot whales follow killer whales in terms of size. They are very social creatures that can be found worldwide in generally warmer waters.

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