ORLANDO, Florida – The Clearwater Marine Aquarium has two new residents who inhabit the facility thanks to the incredible work of the SeaWorld Orlando crews.
On Monday night, SeaWorld teams helped transfer two rescued and rehabilitated animals deemed non-releasable by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
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The two animals, who both suffer from chronic health conditions, include a bottlenose dolphin named Apollo and an endangered green sea turtle named Boba Fett.
âWhile our goal is to return 100% of the animals we save and rehabilitate to their natural environment, they sometimes have chronic health issues that prevent them from surviving on their own,â said Jon Peterson, vice president of zoological operations at SeaWorld Orlando, and SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Team Leader. âAll of us in the aquatic and zoological community are working in partnership to help animals in need and I am delighted that our friends at CMA provide a permanent home for this wonderful couple. “
The Apollo story began in May when someone called the Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute saying they found a stranded dolphin on the Canaveral National Seashore. When Apollo arrived at SeaWorld, vets began running several tests to determine what was wrong.
They later found out that Apollo was 15% underweight and suffered from hearing loss.
“This condition meant that survival on its own was unlikely as the lack of echolocation is not a condition they can overcome – it is the way they hunt and survive.” The good news is that animals with this disease do very well in caring for humans and it has a very bright future, âsaid SeaWorld veterinarian and dolphin specialist Dr Lydia Staggs.
According to a press release from SeaWorld, research has concluded that more than half of stranded bottlenose dolphins suffer from severe hearing loss. The study also shows that hearing loss could play an important role in the stranding of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises).
Over the past few months, animal care specialists at SeaWorld have said Apollo has made good progress in rehabilitation.
News 6 stopped by SeaWorld on Monday to see Apollo before he made his way to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
See the interview below.
Apollo joins PJ and Hemingway as the third runner-up in the Clearwater Marine Aquarium rescued and rehabilitated by SeaWorld.
The best-known resident of the aquarium was Winter, a bottlenose dolphin who was rescued in December 2005 after having his tail caught in a crab trap. The famous prosthetic tailed dolphin who starred in the “Dolphin Tale” movies and inspired countless people, died during treatment on November 11.
âWe are delighted to welcome a new family member to CMA,â said Kelly Martin, vice president of zoological care. âOn the eve of the anniversary of Winter’s rescue on December 11 and her death in November, this new dolphin is an explosion of new life and energy that our team are delighted to embrace. December is truly our magical month at CMA. Resident bottlenose dolphins Hope, Nicholas and rough-toothed dolphin Rudolph were all rescued during the month of December.
Boba Fett, meanwhile, was brought to SeaWorld Orlando in May 2018 after being found in Volusia County floating in the water and unable to dive. Further assessment revealed that her outer hull was severely fractured, a traumatic injury that SeaWorld says likely resulted from a collision with a boat.
âHe came to us with a deep wound at the top of his shell that ran down the center of his back and we suspected, given its severity, that it had affected his spine,â said the SeaWorld veterinarian, the Dr Stacy DiRocco.
Rescue teams said during his time in rehab the wound began to heal, but Boba Fett continued to display positive buoyancy – a condition in which the animal is unable to dive below the waterline and unable to use its fins.
SeaWorld has said that the survival rates of turtles with these conditions are zero without long-term human care.
While at SeaWorld, the turtle named “Star Wars” tripled in size – now almost 20 pounds. Green sea turtles can grow up to 4 feet long and reach 400 pounds and have an average life expectancy of 30 to 40 years.
âIt is thanks to the wonderful teamwork, respect and professionalism performed by each organization that these two now have a second chance in life. I would like to thank the teams at the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the NOAA for coordinating and executing the Apollo rescue and the team at SeaWorld Orlando for providing excellent care for both animals during their rehabilitation, âsaid Dr. Jamesâ Buddy âPowell, executive director of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
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