Florida Keys

The stranded whale was rescued in the Keys. Seven years later, a sad ending at SeaWorld

Fredi, a young short-finned pilot whale, died at SeaWorld Orlando Saturday, April 6, 2019, from an infection. The mammal had persistent health issues since being rescued off the Lower Florida Keys in May 2011.
Fredi, a young short-finned pilot whale, died at SeaWorld Orlando Saturday, April 6, 2019, from an infection. The mammal had persistent health issues since being rescued off the Lower Florida Keys in May 2011.

She was rescued in the spring of 2011 after stranding with 22 other short-finned pilot whales near Cudjoe Key in the Lower Florida Keys.

Fredi, also known as NOAA 301, died over the weekend at SeaWorld Orlando.

“Piliot whale NOAA 301 had persistent health concerns since being rescued as part of a mass stranding in 2011,” SeaWorld said in a statement. “In recent months, she had been showing signs of fatigue and loss of appetite.”

SeaWorld veterinarians discovered she had an infection during a recent physical exam and through diagnostic samples.

“Despite round-the-clock care, her health and quality of life continued to decline,” SeaWorld said.

Theme park veterinarians don’t think the infection is contagious, but they are monitoring the three other pilot whales Fredi shared space with at the attraction. They were rescued during a separate stranding.

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In this photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, staff members and volunteers from the Marine Mammal Conservancy care for four pilot whales Friday, May 6, 2011, in a temporary sea pen at Cudjoe Key, Fla. The four whales are part of a group of about 16 that stranded Thursday, May 5, off the lower Florida Keys. Three other whales are being cared for in the pen, two died and responders are endeavoring to secure the others in the sea pen. (AP Photo/Florida Keys News Bureau, Bob Care) Bob Care AP

Fredi was one of 23 pilot whales found in shallow water near Cudjoe Key, which is about 23 miles north of Key West, on May 5, 2011. Two were deemed healthy enough to be released back into the wild, but most died at the scene.

Fredi was initially taken to a Key Largo facility run by the Marine Mammal Conservancy, a volunteer marine mammal rescue and stranding group authorized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to rehabilitate stranded whales and dolphins.

At the time, scientists determined Fredi was a dependent calf who could not safely return to the wild.

“SeaWorld Orlando was chosen to help rehabilitate her and provide a home because of the park’s experience with pilot whales and expertise in animal husbandry and care, especially for stranded animals,” SeaWorld said in a statement.

Pilot whales are a large deep-water species of dolphin. Out of the other species, only killer whales are larger.

Males can grow as long as 20 feet and weigh 3 tons. Females typically have a maximum length of 16 feet and can weigh up to 1.5 tons.

The whales standed in Cudjoe varied in length from about 9 to 13 feet.

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In this photo released by the Florida Keys News Bureau, marine mammal rescuers from the Marine Mammal Conservancy and other organizations load two pilot whales on a boat Saturday, May 7, 2011, at Cudjoe Key, Fla. The mammals are to be released late Saturday afternoon off the lower Florida Keys. They were part of a group of about 20 marine mammals that stranded off Cudjoe Key Thursday, May 5. (AP Photo/Florida Keys News Bureau, Julie Botteri) Julie Botteri AP

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