On May 5, 2011 as reported by the AP and CNN a pod of 21 wayward pilot whales stranded at Cudjoe Key, in the Florida Keys. Many of the whales did not survive the stranding. Two Bull males were tagged and released see the news footage here while 14 or so died or were euthanized at the stranding site, 5 were transported to the MMC stranding facility of the Marine Mammal Conservancy (MMC) in Key Largo.
Many volunteers tried to help these wonderful cetaceans. Many hours in the water, helping them to remain afloat. While they were given medications and ultrasounds. Unfortunately in the 3 months that followed one after the other were euthanized. Leaving R300 and R301 the lone survivors of this mass stranding.
Being present the day before R302 was euthanized, R302 was held and at that moment it was known by this writer that R302 was dying, a message of love and a prayer was softly spoken to her, as her breath were short and labored. A great risk was taken as there were reports of MRSA bacteria that was found in the water. Our message of love was received by an acknowledgement of a low moan, she was also told that she should stop fighting to live and that it was fine to just let go. Her vital signs as she was held were failing fast and she was urinating blood.
My heart still cries as this story is remembered looking at her blow hole watching and counting the breath seeing the green mucus coming out of her lungs, a bandana over my nose and mouth, watching how she was nebulized from afar. RIP dear beloved R302. Forever in my heart you will be.
A text was received, notification that she was euthanized while activists were protesting in front of the Miami Seaquarium. With shock, sadness, we continue the protest but this is the only video that was found in our Youtube file.
A few weeks afterward, Seaworld came down and transported R301, the young calf that was rescued, so young that reports indicated that she was still nursing but old enough to learn how to eat from the trainers hand. She was a quick learner, hunger makes any animal eat from the hand that feeds them. R301 would be called by a slap on the water to different sides of her enclosure, not only for exercise but for “Husbandry”. Husbandry the term used to describe science and health management they are usually simulations in an effort to desensitize and condition a wild animal It lowers their stress levels. … She was transferred in the cloak of darkness.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zb72VjoLHp4 SeaWorld changed R301 and named it Freddy.
R300 stayed behind.. she needed more rehabilitation as her peduncle has started to bend due to bad husbandry and lack of proper exercise, she developed scoliosis. She was exhibited to the public and donation were asked. This was a total violation of the law and a petition started it was addressed to the National Marine Fisheries Service NMFS to either transfer her immediately to Seaworld or release her from the misery that was being inflicted by MMC. SeaWorld left R300 while they were busily constructing a larger cetacean hospital with more pools.
A formal complaint charging MMC with exposing volunteers to disease was filed with NMFS by Russ Rector of the Dolphin Freedom Foundation. On our most recent chat with Russ Rector, he states that people have to put down “The Dolphin Koolaid- Ignorance is Bliss.”
A lot of people thought one thing, MMC did another. It was not the fairy tale ending all the volunteers were expecting and many were totally disappointed. Guess like Russ says.. Lot of people put down the kool-aid that day!
We put the necessary pressure on the captivity industry and its funny how the world does a complete 360° and you are back where you once did a Dolphin rescue but now you enter the locale with your eyes wide open and with more knowledge and perspective on how intricate the captivity world is. I put down the Kool-Aid; “How I Became a Dolphins Activist.
We’ve created this monster and “we’ve taught the rest of the world how to do it” Russ Rector states matter of factually.
So where is R300? Her astronomical medical bills must be wearing thin on the coffers of SeaWorld. She must have round the clock care as she probably still cannot swim, I asked Russ. Russ, responds in his wonderful southern accent..”Oh, honey, Stay tune. There are no updates on R300, for the time being. We’ll be hearing something or other from Seaworld, its only a matter of time. That whale should have not gone into captivity.”
Update July 24, 2013: **Warning Explicit Language in video** http://www.takepart.com/article/2013/07/24/seaworld-shows-beached-whale-youtube?cmpid=tp3-fb
Update –August 27, 2013.-
Orlando Sentinel writes about a whale death Its with great sadness that we learned of R300’s passing. Here is what Seaworld had to say about her:
“We’re saddened by the loss of “Hundy,” a pilot whale rescued in May of 2011 during a mass stranding in the Florida Keys. You’ll remember that she had been undergoing intensive medical treatment since her arrival at SeaWorld in September 2011, including therapy to correct a dramatically misshapen spine.
We want to thank everyone who was involved in her rescue and care, including vets, experts and hundreds of volunteers in the Keys.
Hundy was being treated daily at SeaWorld Orlando for a variety of health issues that were likely associated with her stranding, most notably severe scoliosis, which developed several weeks into her initial rehabilitation period in the Keys. It is not known which of those conditions, if any, caused her to be stranded. She came ashore with 22 other pilot whales at Cudjoe Key in the Florida Keys.
She also was known as “300,” the number assigned to her during the initial rescue.
“Hundy had a special spirit,” said Mike Boos, our vice president of zoological operations, “and she surprised us many times during her long rehabilitation. She had several chronic, stranding-related health issues that our veterinary and animal care teams were managing. Through it all, she maintained a bright and enthusiastic attitude. She was an amazing animal and all of us feel privileged to have had the opportunity to care for her. The SeaWorld team is feeling a loss right now.”
Her death was sudden, considering her improvement over the last several weeks. She had demonstrated remarkable progress in her mobility, activity level and response to physical therapy sessions over the past few months. She had been doing very well and only showed signs of acute illness over the past two days. A comprehensive necropsy is being performed and results will be known in six to eight weeks.
Four other rescued pilot whales – three from a 2012 mass beaching and one from the 2011 stranding in the Keys – are currently in our care at SeaWorld Orlando.”
Good bye Beloved R300 you are now free once again.
Update: January 5, 2015