Subject: JJ-SeaWorld Begins Final Preparat (fwd)

Mike Williamson (pita@www1.wheelock.edu)
Tue, 24 Mar 1998 13:28:20 -0500 (EST)

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 24 Mar 98 12:55:00 GMT 
From: r.mallon1@genie.geis.com
To: marmam@uvvm.uvic.ca, pita@sun.simmons.edu
Subject: SeaWorld Begins Final Preparat

SeaWorld Begins Final Preparations To Release J.J. The Gray Whale
March 26

    SAN DIEGO, March 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Less than 48 hours remain to
bid farewell to J.J. the gray whale.
    At close of business on Sunday, March 22, SeaWorld San Diego will
move the orphaned gray whale from the 1.7-million gallon public
display pool where she has been undergoing rehabilitation and begin
preparing her for her upcoming release March 26.
    A major storm tentatively scheduled to hit California Wednesday
may delay the release.  If weather conditions allow the release to
proceed as scheduled, SeaWorld will open the main admission gate and
Shamu Stadium an hour early March 26, allowing guests to enter at 9
a.m. and view the event live on the stadium's 300-square-foot
ShamuVision screen.  The video is being sent via microwave from a
transmitter on board the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Conifer, which is
transporting the whale to an area off Pt. Loma for release.
    For her last three days at SeaWorld, J.J. will be in a
behind-the-scenes holding pool undergoing a complete physical
examination, laboratory testing and final measurements.
    "The release of J.J. is truly a monumental task," said Jim Antrim,
SeaWorld San Diego's general curator.  "We will use these final days
to insure that  J.J.'s transition to the sea is as smooth as
possible."
    Marine biologists from Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute (H-SWRI)
will attach satellite tracking devices to the gray whale's dorsal
ridge.  The compact equipment, which is 10 inches by 10 inches and
weighs about three pounds, is designed to track her movement for up
to 18 months.  H-SWRI scientists will track J.J. in a research boat
and visually monitor her movement during the first 72 hours following
her release.  They will begin plotting J.J.'s movement on the Internet
at SeaWorld's official website, www.seaworld.com, on April 1.
    "The biggest challenge in tracking animals in the ocean is keeping
something attached to them," said Brent Stewart, Ph.D., an H-SWRI
senior biologist.  "With J.J., we're able to position the satellite
equipment with several thin anchors inserted just beneath the skin
surface, and coated with the same material used on pacemakers.  It's
compatible with tissue growth, and is minimally invasive to the
animal."  Dr. Stewart said inserting the anchors is a procedure
similar to piercing a human ear.  The attachments are designed to
corrode and detach in 18 months, the expected life of the transmitters.

    All media outlets interested in applying for pool video, photos or
information from sources aboard the two Coast Guard vessels involved
in the release must register before 7 a.m. on March 26 with the U.S.
Coast Guard at (310) 732-7351 or the appointed media pool stations
listed below:
     KFMB-TV Channel 8 (San Diego) at (619) 571-1289
     KGTV-TV Channel 10 (San Diego) at (619)237-6384
     KPBS Radio (San Diego) at (619) 594-8141
     Associated Press (San Diego) at (619) 231-3587
     San Diego UNION-TRIBUNE at (619) 299-3131

    A leader in conservation and education, the Anheuser-Busch Theme
Parks maintain an animal information site designed especially for
students and teachers at www.seaworld.org on the World Wide Web.  The
Anheuser-Busch Theme Parks include Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay and
Williamsburg, Va.; SeaWorld adventure parks in Orlando, San Diego, San
Antonio and Cleveland; Adventure Island in Tampa Bay, Water Country
USA in Williamsburg and Sesame Place near Philadelphia.
Anheuser-Busch Theme Parks employ more than 15,000 people nationwide.