Medical Care of a Juvenile Stranded Brydes Whale
IAAAM 1991
Michael T. Walsh, DVM; Jack Pearson; Robert C. Wagoner
Sea World of Florida Inc., Orlando, FL

The causes of cetacean strandings are varied with the vast majority related to illness. Excluding animals who strand as a result of environmental accidents or who are led to shore in mass stranding, the survival rate for stranded cetaceans in general is low as a result of numerous factors. These include the type, severity and duration of illness, the severity and duration of secondary complications such as dehydration, and appropriate medical intervention used. The challenges facing the rehabilitation team are greatly complicated when attempting to apply critical care principles to the larger whale species.

On 11-25-88 a single female Brydes whale, (Balaenontera edeni) 693 cm long and approximately 2 years of age stranded 600 yards off shore in shallow water near Clearwater on the west coast of Florida. The animal was clinically weak and did not resist attempts at movement. It was transported to Sea World of Florida and placed in a cetacean pool for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Initial blood work revealed an elevated serum creatinine (3.9mg/dl), and severe leukopoenia (2,200mm3). Numerous attempts at feeding fish and or krill were non-productive with the majority of the food held overnight in the mouth. To minimize weight loss the animal was tubed with a fish gruel which eventually reached a daily volume of 21 gallons providing 120,000 Kcal of energy/day. The diet consisted of 66 cans of Two-calR (a high caloric supplement used in humans, 2 calories per cc) and ground fish (20 lbs. of ground bonita) given 3x/day. Daily care of the whale involved stretchering 3 times a day for feeding with handling time minimized. After regaining weight initially lost after rescue and re-establishing normal blood parameters, it was determined that without an extremely large pool to allow normal exercise the whale would eventually deteriorate so it was decided to release her while she still had a chance to survive. A large cradle was constructed for handling and the whale was transported by truck to the west coast of Florida and placed on a coast guard vessel and released 120 miles offshore in the hope that deeper water would allow better access to feeding areas. A satellite tracking device attached to the dorsal fin allowed scientists at the University of Oregon to monitor the animal for 10 days until the signal was lost.

The care of this Brydes Whale illustrates that larger whale species which strand can in some cases be given appropriate aid which may result in survival. In addition valuable biologic and medical information can be compiled which can be applied to future stranding events.

Two-CalRHN, Ross Laboratories, Columbus, Ohio 4321.

Speaker Information
(click the speaker's name to view other papers and abstracts submitted by this speaker)

Michael T. Walsh, DVM
SeaWorld of Florida
Orlando, FL, USA

MAIN : Clinical Reports : Stranded Brydes Whale
Powered By VIN