Sully Safely ‘Landed’ at SeaWorld

Named after the famous airline pilot Captain “Sully” Sullenberger, Sully the pilot whale arrived to SeaWorld on Jan. 4, 2010 after being transported from the Curaçao Sea Aquarium, in a special transport unit aboard a chartered FedEx A300 Airbus cargo plane.  Sully, who weighed nearly 1,000 pounds and measured approximately 11 feet long upon arrival at SeaWorld, has been cared for in a behind-the-scenes animal care pool at SeaWorld since then.

Sully’s story is one of courage, tenacity and the will to overcome extreme odds.  The animal was found beached on Jan Tiel Bay in Curaçao in July of last year.  Rescuers from the Southern Caribbean Cetacean Network (SCCN) were called in to investigate.  Their initial assessment was that the pilot whale was suffering from severe starvation and dehydration and was not likely to survive.  In the days to come, they tube fed Sully with a special formula until he was able to eat whole fish.

Once Sully was nourished and energetic, rescuers made several attempts to re-introduce him back out into the ocean and to wild populations of pilot whales.  Each time rescuers took Sully out to sea, he followed the boat back, sometimes at speeds near 25 mph.

Sully continued to appear healthy and active, but each attempt to release him was unsuccessful.   Because he is young (estimated to be between one and three years old) and showed no signs of being willing or able to re-integrate into the wild, experts determined that the best place for Sully would be in a zoological facility with other pilot whales.  SeaWorld San Diego was deemed the best choice because it is one of the few places in the world to house pilot whales and has a team of experts who have cared for the species for more than two decades.

Extracted from

Share this post:
The Royal Sea Aquarium News - Background

Type to Search

See all results