San Diego (March 20, 1998) - 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 stadiums 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 Diegos 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 whales 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 SeaWorlds official website, www.seaworld.org, 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., were 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. Its 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.
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