Pilot Whales Taken To Keys’ Rehab Facility

KEY LARGO (CBS4) – Five pilot whales which survived a mass stranding off Cudjoe Key last week have been taken to a marine life rehab center in Key Largo.

The whales arrived at the Marine Mammal Conservancy in a temperature-controlled Publix Super Markets’ semi-trailer normally used to transport food.

Two veterinarians and several volunteers accompanied the whales which rode on padded mats and were kept wet during the 82-mile trip from a temporary sea pen.

“It takes a village to save some whales because we had many organizations coming together to move these whales very safely,” Blair Mase from NOAA said.

Three of the whales are in stable, but guarded condition, while the other two are critically ill. Officials say rehabilitation could take months.

“Our hope is that they will survive but it’s too early to tell at this time,” Mase said.

More than 500 volunteers have helped since some 21 pilot whales stranded May 5.

“I just wish them well. I think they’re here to give us a message and we’re here to help them,” volunteer Marilyn Rogers said.

Fourteen of the whales died, two were deemed healthy and released back into the sea. Satellite tags were placed on the whales’ dorsal fin so researchers could track their progress. On Monday, data from the tags showed both whales were swimming strong in the Florida Straits.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Florida Keys News Bureau contributed to this report.)


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