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FAU’s Harbor Branch Marine Mammal Rehabilitation Center Treating Five Juvenile Short-Finned Pilot Whales after Stranding Event at Avalon State Park Beach

Experts Available Sunday Morning for Questions and Additional Information

FORT PIERCE, FL (September 1, 2012) – FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute's Rehabilitation Center is treating five juvenile whales, two males and three females, that were transported after an early morning stranding event that included 22 short-finned pilot whales on Saturday, September 1 at Florida’s Avalon State Park Beach in St. Lucie County. All five whales had a very smooth transport to FAU’s Harbor Branch Rehabilitation Center, located at 5600 U.S. 1 North, Fort Pierce, Florida. The whales are receiving 24 hour care, and experts will be available to answer questions from the media on Sunday, September 2 starting at 10 a.m. at FAU’s Harbor Branch Rehabilitation Center.

“Resources to manage such events are limited, and collaboration between experts is essential,” said Steve McCulloch, first responder for the National Marine Fisheries Service Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Network. “Funding for stranding responses is provided by proceeds from Florida’s ‘Protect Florida Whales’ specialty license plate.”

The whales are being evaluated, stabilized and treated by animal expert teams from Harbor Branch, SeaWorld Orlando, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Marine Mammal Conservancy, University of Florida, as well as specially trained and qualified Harbor Branch volunteers. The goal is for the whales to eventually transition to SeaWorld Orlando for long-term care, and ultimately be returned back into the ocean.

McCulloch immediately mobilized resources and notified the National Marine Fisheries Service Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Network. Harbor Branch Staff Veterinarian Dr. Juli Goldstein is medically examining and monitoring the animals that are currently at the Institute’s Rehabilitation Center.


About Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute:
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University is a research institute dedicated to exploration, innovation, conservation and education related to the oceans. Harbor Branch was founded in 1971 as a private non-profit organization. In December 2007, Harbor Branch joined Florida Atlantic University. The institute specializes in ocean engineering, at-sea operations, drug discovery and biotechnology from the oceans, coastal ecology and conservation, marine mammal research and conservation, aquaculture, and marine education. For more information, visit

Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of three signature themes – marine and coastal issues, biotechnology and contemporary societal challenges – which provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit

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