ORLANDO (June 29, 2018) – Yesterday, members of the Georgia Aquarium Conservation Field Station, and SeaWorld Rescue Team, along with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) returned “Sharkie” to the ocean near St. Augustine, Fla. after an intense four month rehabilitation at SeaWorld Orlando. The 265 lb. sub-adult Atlantic bottlenose dolphin was rescued in February on Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. after FWC reached out for assistance due to the animal’s life-threatening injuries. Georgia Aquarium Conservation Field Station veterinarian, Dr. Rose Borkowski was on scene alongside FWC and conferred with NOAA Fisheries after assessing the animal and the decision was made to transport the animal to SeaWorld Orlando’s Cetacean Rehabilitation Facility.
The dolphin, which had sustained multiple shark bite wounds to her body and right pectoral flipper and was suffering from pneumonia, was successfully transported to SeaWorld Orlando where she has been receiving rehabilitation care for the past four months.
“Georgia Aquarium Conservation Field Station is proud to be a part of the initial rescue and release of this dolphin following its lengthy rehabilitation. Now, seeing it healthy enough to be released shows the dedication and hard work by all those involved,” said George Biedenbach, director of the Georgia Aquarium Conservation Field Station. “Our goal is to always assist animals in need as best we can, no matter the circumstances and we’re glad to see another animal thriving. Every animal counts and it’s through collaborative work like this that we can ensure the health and safety of so many ocean animals.”
“This is a very exciting day for us. To see this animal in the state she was in, bitten by sharks, emaciated, in trouble and with life threatening injuries, to as healthy as she is now to swim back out in the ocean, it’s just a wonderful day and that’s why we do this,” said Jon Peterson, Manager of SeaWorld Rescue Operations.
During her stay, SeaWorld veterinarians and the Animal Rescue Team provided 24-hour care to the dolphin, treating her with antibiotics, dewormers, anti-inflammatories, physical therapy and wound care. Prior to her release, the dolphin was fitted with a satellite tag which will enable stranding network partner organizations to continue to monitor her.
The dolphin passed a major milestone in her journey to return when she passed a hearing test in April administered by NOAA Fisheries with the help of SeaWorld. The testing showed the dolphin has full hearing through the entire frequency range necessary for echolocation. It is important for dolphins undergoing rehabilitation to pass a hearing test to ensure hearing loss was not a factor in their stranding. Hearing loss is detrimental to wild dolphins, as they rely on echolocation to hunt, navigate and avoid predators.
SeaWorld Orlando’s Animal Rescue Team is on call 24/7 to save and care for injured, orphaned or ill animals. In collaboration with NOAA Fisheries and other members of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment operates one of the world’s most respected programs authorized to rescue ill and injured marine animals, with the goal to rehabilitate and return them to the ocean. SeaWorld animal experts have helped more than 31,000 animals in need – ill, injured, orphaned and abandoned – for more than five decades.
Footage of rescued dolphins produced by SeaWorld under the National Marine Fisheries Service Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program.
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About Georgia Aquarium Conservation Field Station
Georgia Aquarium Conservation Field Station (GA-CFS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Marineland, Fla. GA-CFS is dedicated to research and stranding response of dolphins, small whales, and turtles in northeast Florida and focuses on research and conservation. The team at GA-CFS supports Georgia Aquarium research projects both in the field and on-location and provides unique expertise and experience. GA-CFS exists to increase public awareness and contribute to the scientific study of aquatic life and provides educational outreach to local communities and schools.
About SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ is a leading theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. The company is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, behavioral training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company collectively cares for what it believes is one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals. The company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld® rescue team has helped more than 31,000 animals in need over the last 50 years.
The company owns or licenses a portfolio of recognized brands including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens® and Sea Rescue®. Over its more than 50-year history, the company has built a diversified portfolio of 12 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of-a-kind zoological collection. The company’s theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is a wholly owned subsidiary of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., a publicly traded company. Visit www.seaworldentertainment.com for more information.