HOLIDAY (CBSMiami) — Two pilot whales that were part of a pod that beached themselves Monday, were successfully released into the Gulf of Mexico Thursday, after scientists saw positive signs in the marine animals’ recovery.
The two were separated from three others in the pod found on Redington Beach, near Tampa.
That day, three were taken by boat to deeper waters and fitted with GPS tracking devices. They were tracked heading away from the coast.
The two smaller whales were monitored at Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s new rehab facility in Tarpon Springs.
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Scientists there said they made the decision to release the whales late Wednesday night after determining that they were ready to be reunited with the three other whales that were found beached.
Thursday morning, they were released about 20 miles from the coast of Anclote River Park. They were also fitted with GPS trackers for biologists to monitor them.
“We’re a little bit surprised it went this well,” explained David Yates, CEO of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
A crane was used to transfer the pair from vans to a large boat.
One whale weighs 1,600 pounds and is 12 feet long while the smaller one is 950 pounds and is 10 feet long.