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Press Release:



FAU’s Harbor Branch Rehabilitation Center Announces the Transport of Four Juvenile Short-Finned Pilot Whales to SeaWorld Orlando

FORT PIERCE, FL (September 5, 2012) – Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute’s veterinarian and animal care experts, in partnership with Marine Mammal Research and Conservation Program (MMRC), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service, and SeaWorld Orlando began preparations late Tuesday, September 4 for transport of the four juvenile whales being treated at FAU’s HBOI Rehabilitation Center. At approximately 3 a.m. on Wednesday, September 5, the four whales were carefully moved into a transport unit and safely arrived at SeaWorld Orlando at approximately 6:30 a.m. The whales will remain at SeaWorld Orlando for long-term rehabilitation, and their prognosis remains guarded.

"This non-reoccurring event represents a unique opportunity to combine the talent and skills of a dedicated team of professionals to advance our understanding of this unique marine mammal species and our oceans on which all humankind depends,” said Steve McCulloch, program manager for FAU’s HBOI MMRC.

The whales were being treated at FAU’s HBOI Rehabilitation Center after a mass stranding event Saturday, September 1 that included 22 short-finned pilot whales at Florida’s Avalon State Park Beach in St. Lucie County. The whales received 24-hour care from experts and volunteers while at FAU’s HBOI facility. Efforts continue to investigate the cause of the stranding.

A necropsy was conducted on Tuesday, September 4 to determine the cause of the death for the whale that expired on Monday, September 3. The necropsy is being conducted at the HBOI pathology laboratory by attending FAU veterinarian Dr. Sylvia Gografe, and Wendy Noke and Teresa Mazza, specialists from Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute. The results will aid in determining the cause of the stranding event, and yield vital clues for treatment of the remaining four pilot whales. Results will not be available for several weeks.

For more information about the whales’ transport and updates on their condition, please contact SeaWorld Orlando at 407-363-2280 or

For more information about FAU’s HBOI efforts and research, please contact Cara C. Perry at 772-242-2317 or


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

About Florida Atlantic University:
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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