Subject: Gray Whale/stranding:Baby Whale's Life in Danger (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Mon, 24 Mar 1997 13:54:14 -0500 (EST)

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Date: Mon, 24 Mar 97 12:39:00 GMT 
Subject: Baby Whale's Life in Danger

Baby Whale's Life in Danger

   SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Rescuers put a 2,900-pound baby whale on
intravenous feeding Sunday, fighting to save her from pneumonia and
a potentially deadly infection.
   "The next 24 hours will tell us if she survives," said Tom
Reidarson, staff veterinarian at Sea World, where the nearly
17-foot whale was under 24-hour watch in an isolation pool.
   Estimated to be about 2 1/2 months old, she was at least 20 percent
underweight for her age and her infection appears to be getting
worse, the veterinarian said.
   "She's sort of on autopilot. She's breathing, she's holding her
fluids down, she's floating, she's still alive. But she's just
holding on right now," Reidarson said.
   He put the whale on a new antibiotic regimen and she began
receiving several gallons of fluid through a catheter in her tail
Sunday in an effort to correct her dehydration.
   "It's sort of a last resort," the vet said, because she was
unable to absorb fluids administered by mouth feedings, Reidarson
   The whale was dehydrated and malnourished when she was found
Thursday in surf off Santa Barbara. She apparently became separated
from her mother during the annual migration of California gray
whales from Alaska to Mexico.
   The whale was trucked 200 miles to the aquatic park.
   The nature of her illness was unclear, but she may have proved
too weak to fight off bacteria that entered her bloodstream through
scrapes and cuts she received while rolling in the surf, Reidarson
   The baby whale is the second beached whale rescued in three
months. A female named J.J. by her caretakers was only days old
when she was found off of Los Angeles' Venice Beach on Jan. 11.
   Trucked to San Diego, J.J. is nearly 17 feet long, weighs 3,300
pounds and is gaining 30 pounds a day. Eventually, Sea World
officials hope to return J.J. to the Pacific Ocean, possibly by
late December.
   Once an endangered species, there now are about 25,000
California gray whales, which migrate annually between Alaska and
Mexico. About 1,000 calves are born each year but only two-thirds