“We’re more than thrilled and honored to welcome these pilot whales to their new San Diego home,” said Wendy Ramirez, curator of dolphins and pilot whales. “We have a team of trainers focused on each whale to help them acclimate to their new environment. We’ve even brought some of their favorite toys from Orlando. We couldn’t be more excited to have them join our San Diego family.”
Ace, Ava, and Piper, the only surviving pilots whales from a mass stranding event near Fort Pierce, Fla. in 2012, were rescued and were rehabilitated at SeaWorld Orlando. The National Marine Fisheries Service ultimately determined the whales could not be returned to the ocean as they were dependent calves at the time of their rescue and would be unable to survive on their own in the wild. The Orlando marine park was asked to provide the long-term care.
The transport of the 7-year-old whales, one male, and two females, went smoothly. The whales join Argo, also a rescued pilot whale. Argo was rescued after stranding on a beach near Kamogawa, Japan in 2004. Argo was also determined to be non-returnable to the wild. Argo was transported from Japan to SeaWorld San Diego in 2012.
SeaWorld San Diego has been caring for pilot whales for more than 30 years. This relocation provides for enhanced management and socialization opportunities by allowing all four of SeaWorld’s pilot whales to live together.
Ace, Ava, and Piper are currently acclimating to their new home at Dolphin Amphitheater and will be introduced to Argo over the next several days.
As part of the transport, Atla and Pearl, two beluga whales from SeaWorld San Diego, were relocated to SeaWorld San Antonio.