Researcher reveals fate of five released pilot whales
The Miami Herald
7th March 2004
More than half a year after five stranded pilot whales were released into the Atlantic Ocean, a marine researcher said Sunday that two of the mammals are doing well, one is deceased and two are in uncertain condition.
The released whales were among 28 that grounded near Big Pine Key last April. The return of the five to the ocean almost four months later came after a mammoth effort involving almost a thousand volunteers, who nursed them back to health.
Four whales were fitted with satellite tracking transmitters that have separated as they were designed to, according to Greg Early, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service contract biologist who monitored the animals.
The youngest male died around the time period that observers saw a group of bull sharks attack the whale, Early said.
Another whale travelled into the Gulf of Mexico where researchers lost contact with the transmitter about 400 miles south of Galveston, Texas, Early said. He was not certain of that animal's fate.
"Long-surviving pilot whales usually live in groups," he said.
Early is reasonably assured that two others are doing well because they stayed together throughout the entire tracking process.
"They travelled up and down the east coast and went as far as North Carolina, then swung to the east about 500 miles seemingly to avoid a hurricane (Isabel) in September," he said. "They then came back to a point off Florida before we lost their signals."
Early said no data exists on the mammal freed without a transmitter.
For further information please see:
National Marine Fisheries Service: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov