TARPON SPRINGS, FL — There’s hope for two pilot whales rescued Monday after beaching themselves on Redington Beach.
Marine scientists said the two younger short-finned pilot whales taken to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s new rehabilitation facility at Fred Howard Springs Park in Tarpon Springs are in stable conditions “and we are cautiously optimistic,” wrote aquarium officials on Facebook.
The two younger pilot whales are the first patients of the Tarpon Springs rehabilitation facility, which features a 75,000-gallon pool. They are being monitored around the clock.
In the meantime, the three mature pilot whales who were transported off the beach to deeper waters Monday afternoon have remained offshore.
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They “are doing exactly what we hoped, and not returning to shallow waters,” wrote the aquarium.
Because all members of a pod will remain by the sides of the distressed whales, biologists feared the three adult whales might make their way back to the beach to find the younger pair, but that didn’t happen.
Rescuers were called to Redington Beach at 7 a.m. Monday after five pilot whales were discovered stranded in shallow water. Biologists still haven’t determined why the pod of pilot whales stranded itself but said it usually occurs when one or more members of the pod are sick or in distress.
Joined by dozens of volunteers, rescuers from the aquarium, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Mote Marine Laboratory spent nearly 10 hours monitoring the stranded whales before deciding to place satellite-tracking tags on three of the whales that showed no medical issues and transporting them to deeper waters.
The two younger whales showing signs of distress were taken to the rehab center. Once they recover, the rescuers hope to release them back into their pod.