Media Relations

Press Release:



FAU’s Harbor Branch Rehabilitation Center Continues to Treat Five Juvenile Short-Finned Pilot Whales after Stranding Saturday; Experts Cautiously Optimistic

Experts Available Monday Morning for Questions and Additional Information

FORT PIERCE, FL (September 2, 2012) – FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute's (HBOI) Rehabilitation Center continues to treat five juvenile whales, two males and three females, that were transported to HBOI after a stranding event Saturday, September 1, that included 22 short-finned pilot whales at Florida’s Avalon State Park Beach in St. Lucie County. Experts from HBOI’s Marine Mammal Research and Conservation Program, SeaWorld Orlando, The Marine Mammal Conservancy, University of Florida and Ocean Embassy remain cautiously optimistic about their prognosis.

The following on-site experts will be available to speak to media representatives on location at FAU’s HBOI facility located at 5600 U.S. 1 North in Fort Pierce, or by phone Monday, September 3 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.:

  • Dr. Juli Goldstein, FAU Harbor Branch Staff Veterinarian
  • Steve McCulloch, FAU Harbor Branch MMRC Program Manager
  • Dr. Michelle Davis, SeaWorld Orlando Senior Veterinarian

Under the leadership of FAU’s HBOI Staff Veterinarian Dr. Juli Goldstein, the veterinary team is currently administering 24-hour care to meet the whales’ medical, nutritional and behavioral needs. They made a smooth transition to FAU’s HBOI Critical Care Center and are successfully managing their environment and swimming without assistance from staff. The whales’ blood parameters indicate inflammation, evidence of stress and infection as a result of the mass stranding event. They are juveniles that are still developing their immune systems. 

Determinations about transport of the whales to SeaWorld Orlando for continued rehabilitation will be decided based upon their progress and discussions with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service, the veterinarian team and other scientific experts.

Interested media should contact Cara Perry, director of external relations, at 772-332-0515 or if they would like to interview the experts during their time of availability Monday.


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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