Pilot Whale Successfully Returned to the Sea

A female short-finned pilot whale has a second chance at life after an extensive and complex return to the sea. 

That's according to a release from SeaWorld Orlando, which helped  rehabilitate the sea-going mammal.

The 725-pound whale beached herself in Dixie County on July 1. 

Discovered by beach goers, rescue teams from the University of Florida and Clearwater Marine Aquarium assisted the whale and transported her to SeaWorld Orlando for continued medical intervention and rehabilitation.

Upon arrival, the pilot whale began to receive 24 hour care from SeaWorld veterinary and animal care teams.

Officials say the pilot whale responded well to her treatment and began to show signs of improvement almost immediately. 

Together with NOAA, the SeaWorld team says it made arrangements to return the pilot whale to the sea. 

Plans were made to release her 140 miles off the West Coast of Florida in an area of known pilot whale habitat. 

Pilot whales live in deep water and are social animals that travel together in pods. 

To ensure the pilot whale was returned safely and carefully, the U.S. Coast Guard assisted with the complex transport. 

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Joshua Appleby, along with a team of five members of SeaWorld's rescue team, worked together on the multifaceted mission. 

On Tuesday morning, August 8, the pilot whale, nicknamed "Gale" by the crew of the Joshua Appleby, was successfully returned to the Gulf of Mexico.

Prior to her release, the pilot whale was tagged with a satellite-linked transmitter by researchers with the Chicago Zoological Society‚Äôs Sarasota Dolphin Research Program. 

The tag will allow researchers and rescuers to follow her movements and dive patterns for the next several months. 

SeaWorld officials say the goal, since day one, had been the release of the pilot whale back into the sea.


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