ORLANDO (CBS4)- A pilot whale calf, that stranded off the lower Florida Keys in May, and recovered at the Marine Mammal Conservancy (MMC) in Key Largo, was transported to SeaWorld Orlando, arriving there early Saturday morning.
The 600-pound, 9-foot-long female was placed in a water-filled transport unit late Friday night and loaded into a refrigerated truck for the almost 300-mile trip.
SeaWorld marine mammal experts and a veterinarian accompanied the whale during the trip.
The calf cannot be released, a NOAA National Marine Fisheries official said, because it is too young to survive in the wild without its mother and requires managed care.
One pilot whale remains at the conservancy that MMC officials said is in critical condition, but showing signs of improvement.
back in mid-June, officials at a Florida Keys-based marine mammal rehabilitation center euthanized the third of seven surviving pilot whales. MMC personnel euthanized the first surviving pilot whale May 13 and a second May 25. Two were released two days after the stranding.
A SeaWorld spokesperson said the whale has become the first resident of the facility's new cetacean rehabilitation pool, designed to rehabilitate whales and dolphins rescued from the wild with the goal to release them when possible.
Experts there are to continue to monitor the whale, provide nutrition and perform physical examinations. Eventually, the young marine mammal is to join the facility's other pilot whales.
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