Subject: J.J. The Gray Whale Heads Nort (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Thu, 2 Apr 1998 11:21:09 -0500 (EST)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu,  2 Apr 98 13:36:00 GMT 
Subject: J.J. The Gray Whale Heads Nort

J.J. The Gray Whale Heads North; Hubbs-Sea World
Scientists Tracking Progress

    SAN DIEGO, April 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Following a picture-perfect
release yesterday from the Coast Guard Cutter Conifer, J.J. the gray
whale appears to be heading north.  Scientists from Hubbs--Sea World
Research Institute (H-SWRI) confirmed today that their most recent
radio transmissions, received early this morning at 4 a.m., indicated
the 14-month old whale is in the vicinity of the city of Coronado on
San Diego Bay.
    "While they don't have visual contact with the whale at this time,
the radio signal is clear and strong," said Jim Antrim, SeaWorld San
Diego's general curator.
    "Rough weather threatened to cancel the tracking boat's project
last night, but this morning they're back following J.J.'s signal, and
scanning the water to locate her."
    In a press briefing this morning at SeaWorld, Antrim said the
Megaladon, a 70' sport fishing vessel, will continue to follow J.J.
through Friday.  Brent Stewart, Ph.D., a senior researcher at H-SWRI
who is aboard the boat, said the crew is also recording vocalizations
from the whale.
    This is significant, Stewart said, because the vocalizations may
help J.J. establish contact with other gray whales in the vicinity who
are migrating north.
    By April 10, Stewart said the satellite tracking system should be
fully functional and people will be able to monitor J.J.'s location on
the Internet website
    In the meantime, people can check the whale's progress by dialing
SeaWorld's animal hotline at 1-800-23-SHAMU.  The recording will be
updated twice daily, at 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
    J.J., who arrived at SeaWorld in January 1997 comatose and near
death, is the largest animal to be part of the adventure park's rescue
and rehabilitation program.  After 14 months of care at SeaWorld, J.J.
was released back into the Pacific yesterday with the help of the
Coast Guard and Navy.  San Diego Police escorted a 9-vehicle caravan
from the Mission Bay park to a pier at Naval Station San Diego.  J.J.
was transported in a cushioned 40-foot animal transport unit secured
to a flatbed trailer.
    When the whale was lowered into the ocean off Pt. Loma and
released at 10:18 a.m. yesterday, she took a deep breath and
immediately dove straight down.  Stewart said the radio transmitted
picked up three separate signals, and preliminary information revealed
the whale was heading south.  After several hours the scientists
aboard the Megaladon established visual contact with the whale, and
confirmed she was changing direction and spyhopping, a typical
behavior where an animal bobs out of the water to check its
    Threatening weather conditions last night temporarily grounded the
scientists, but they are back on J.J.'s trail.  They will not disclose
the exact location of the whale, Antrim said, out of consideration for
the safety of the animal.  One of J.J.'s biggest threats could be
curious sightseers.
    A leader in conservation and education, the Anheuser-Busch Theme
Parks maintain an animal information site designed especially for
students and teachers at 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.