ORLANDO (CBSMiami) – One of the pilot whales who survived a stranding in the Keys will be getting help from a special Seaworld team that has designed equipment to help the whale’s curved spine, a problem that has stopped it from swimming normally.
The whale was one of a group that was stranded in the Lower Keys last spring, and later taken to the Marine Mammal Conservancy in Key Largo. There, teams of volunteers worked round-the-clock to keep the whales floating as experts tried to help them recover.
Most of the whales did not survive, despite the efforts of the volunteers, but in an ironic twist, one that did was left without the ability to swim normally due to scolosis, a disease of the spine which also affects humans,
The special brace needed to correct the problem was created by Orlando-based Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic, which worked with animal experts and vets to design something which would work on a whale.
Once fitted, the brace will be slowly adjusted over time to help correct the curved spine, giving the whale a chance at swimming more normally by giving it use of it’s tail.
This is the first time a custom-fitted orthopedic device of this kind has been used on a large whale, and experts admit they are not sure it will work.