Seven surviving pilot whales start swimming, health improving
22nd April 2003
BIG PINE KEY -- Seven pilot whales that survived being stranded last week in the Florida Keys swam under their own power Tuesday as their conditions slowly improved, rescue officials said.
The six adults and one calf have been upgraded from “extremely guarded condition” to “guarded condition”, said Denise Jackson of the Florida Keys Marine Mammal Rescue Team.
She said the whales were being fed a mixture of water and Pedialyte _ a drink normally given to dehydrated infants _ plus a quarter-pound of squid, Jackson said. They were swimming in a temporary holding facility set up by volunteers who have worked around the clock since Friday to care for the animals.
“They are improving, definitely,” Jackson said. 2I wouldn't say everything is hunky-dory, but it's encouraging after five days to have all of them up and swimming.”
The seven whales were among 28 that stranded themselves Friday in shallow waters near Big Pine Key in the lower Florida Keys. Seven died, five were euthanized, six were seen swimming in the Gulf and three were unaccounted for Tuesday, Jackson said.
Volunteers on Tuesday kept the surviving whales shaded from the sun, which can burn their skin, as they followed them around with umbrellas in the confined holding facility, Jackson said. Previous blood tests have shown that they are suffering from anaemia, dehydration, viral infections and possible kidney and liver problems.
A rescue official said Tuesday that the stomachs of many of the 12 dead pilot whales were empty, meaning they had been away from their natural habitat in deeper waters for some time.