Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Captain Sully Moves

Pilot Whale “Captain Sully” transported to new
homeThe Pilot Whale known as “Captain Sully” was
transported early Monday morning to his new home at Sea World, San
Diego, California. This concluded an epic rehabilitation effort
spanning nearly six months on the island of Curacao. Sully was placed
in a stretcher by his handlers, and hoisted aloft from his pool at Jan
Thiel Bay by a crane. He was then lowered into a customized transport
carrier, containing water and foam padding, on the back of a flat-bed
truck. From Jan Thiel, he was driven to Hato Airport, where his
container was loaded into a FED-EX Airbus A-300. He is expected to
arrive at Sea World by early evening Monday.Accompanying Sully on his
journey is George Kieffer, president of the Southern Caribbean Cetacean
Network (SCCN) and the whale’s principle handler on Curacao.
Kieffer will spend the next week with Sea World handlers, trainers, and
veterinarians in the hope of ensuring a comfortable transition for the
young animal. Under the supervision of SCCN; with the support and
cooperation of the Curacao Sea Aquarium, Dolphin Academy, and Curacao
Dolphin Therapy Center; with the dedication of dozens of volunteer
care-givers; and with the generous hospitality of Zanzibar Beach and
Restaurant, and Scuba Do Dive Center . . . the pilot whale survived a
beach stranding, regained his health, experienced two release-to-wild
attempts, and now heads toward a future with two female pilot whales
under permanent human care.The decision to move Sully was not taken
lightly. SCCN weighed all available options before choosing his
destination.Since Sully’s stranding on July 14th, the early
goal of his team was to improve his health and fitness in order to
return him to the wild. An attempt at release on September 1st showed
that Sully had no intention of being left alone as he chased the SCCN
boat back to Jan Thiel from a distance of over 13 km at over 40 km/h.
On November 5th, Sully was led to a wild pod of his own species.
Although he was among the pod for over an hour, Sully failed to follow
after the group after sunset, and again returned to the bay with his
handlers. That trip logged over 70km spanning eight-and-a-half
hours.That event left the SCCN with one of four future options for
Sully. Two of those options – euthanasia or abandonment alone
at sea – were never considered. The other two options would
place Sully in human care either at the Curacao Sea Aquarium or another
zoological setting already holding pilot whales. The Sea Aquarium is
designed for human interaction with bottlenose dolphins and provides
little extra space to house a growing pilot whale. Sea World, San Diego
houses pilot whales and is world renowned for their quality of animal
care. Thus the SCCN sought permission from both the U.S. and
Netherlands Antilles authorities for a permit to move Sully.

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