SAN DIEGO — A stranded young pilot whale that was nursed back to health by rescuers in the Caribbean has acclimated well to his new home at SeaWorld San Diego, officials at the marine park said Tuesday.
The male whale was found beached last July on Curacao, an island near Aruba. Once healthy, rescuers tried to reintroduce him to wild pods in the ocean, but each time, he followed the boat back. It was determined that he would only survive in a zoological facility.
The 11-foot-whale, believed to be between 1 and 3 years old, was named Sully, after airline Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, who guided his crippled US Airways plane onto New York's Hudson River last year, saving the lives of everyone onboard.
The whale, now in a pool off public view, will eventually be introduced to SeaWorld San Diego's other two pilot whales, Bubbles, who is 47, and Shadow, who is 30. Both have performed at the marine park for more than 20 years.
Sully arrived at SeaWorld San Diego on Monday following a nearly eight-hour flight in a special carrier on a chartered FedEx cargo plane.
Dr. Tom Reidarson, senior veterinarian at SeaWorld San Diego, said tests showed that Sully is healthy, and he was eating and swimming normally Tuesday.
Kelly Terry, a spokeswoman for SeaWorld San Diego, said it is not yet known if Sully, who will be in quarantine for 30 days, will eventually be trained to perform.
"We just want to get him situated and make sure he's healthy," Terry said Tuesday.