GULFPORT, Mississippi (WKRG) – The melon-headed whale that washed ashore in Fort Morgan in September has made a full recovery at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies.
Marine scientists say it is the first time in the United States a melon-headed whale will be released back into the wild after being treated by humans.
“He’s responded quite well,” said Debra Moore, attending veterinarian at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies. “His diet has gradually increased to the point he’s really recovered from being really ill when he was first found on the beach stranded.”
Officials at IMMS will soon release the whale back into the wild. They say coordinating a release is a complicated process that involves multiple agencies. The whale needs to be brought at least 100 miles offshore. Marine scientists will put a satellite tag on the whale before its release.
“With that, we’re able to identify where he’s going, how deep he’s diving and that will come back to scientists and we’ll learn more about the habitat that they’re living in in the wild,” said Moore
IMMS has a large rehabilitation center on site. They work in conjunction with the Alabama Marine Mammal Stranding Network which first picked up the whale. Another melon-headed whale washed up in Gulf Shores the same week this whale did. The first whale did not survive transport.