On May 5, 2011, Carolyn Breece was on vacation with her family in Key Largo, Florida when a pod of 23 Pilot Whales had become stranded on nearby Cudjoe Key. Carolyn and her family were among the dozens who volunteered to assist in the rescue effort. She spent four hours cradling a two month old baby (then 600 lbs) female (they called Bubbles) until it could be transported to a conservancy.

The stranded whales had to be treated with antibiotics for pneumonia and electro-stimulation to straighten their tails, and physical therapy to tone their damaged muscles.

Of the 23 stranded whales, only two adult males were healthy enough to be released back to sea. Five of the whales were transported to the Marine Mammal Conservancy (MMC) rehabilitation property in Key Largo. All the others unfortunately perished. Bubbles was among the five whales that made the trip. Three of the five died soon after arriving at the conservancy from their ailments and injuries.

After weeks of care at MMC Bubbles and the other surviving member (an adult female) were transported to Sea World. They were named Fredi (formerly Bubbles) and Hundy by the Sea World Staff. Hundy passed away in August 2013 leaving Fredi as the only survivor from the March 5, 2011 stranding.

Last week Carolyn and her family visited Sea World where she was able to see Fredi (Bubbles) for the first time since the stranding. “This was the best trip ever,” remarked Carolyn. “We’ll definitely go back next year to see her again.”

There is more information about this stranding incident in an article by the New York Times HERE and in the Florida Keys “Keynoter” HERE.