VIDEO: Pilot whale returns to ocean after SeaWorld rehabilitation

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A female short-finned pilot whale, named “Gale”, has a second chance at life after she returns to the sea.

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

After she was discovered by beach goers, rescue teams from the University of Florida and Clearwater Marine Aquarium took the whale to SeaWorld Orlando for medical help and rehabilitation.

Gale responded well to her treatment and began to show signs of improvement almost immediately. After just one day, she was able to successfully swim on her own and eat fish again.

On Tuesday morning, Gale was released into an area where other pilot whales live 140 miles off the West Coast of Florida.

Experts say pilot whales live in deep water and are social animals that travel together in pods. This release spot will hopefully give her a good chance to join other pilot whales.

“We all watched her strongly swim away,” shared Dr. Lara Croft, veterinarian, SeaWorld Orlando, who escorted the pilot whale through every step of her rescue journey. “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.”

Prior to her release, Gale was tagged with a satellite-linked transmitter, which will allow researchers and rescuers to follow her movements and dive patterns for the next several months.

Pilot whales, are members of the dolphin family, and are second only to killer whales in size.

Short-finned pilot whales are found worldwide in warmer temperate and tropical waters. Pilot whales are extremely social, and are well known for mass stranding in groups of a few animals to several hundred at a time.


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