coming up next on jonathan bird's blue world, a stranded pilot whale is rescued in the caribbean! hi, i'm jonathan bird andwelcome to my world! ( â™ª music ) the ocean is full offascinating animals, andstories. i love to investigateand film these stories, and sometimes iget lucky. on a recentexpedition, i learned about an amazing story of survival. and that story involves a tenfoot long pilot whale that wasstranded here on the caribbean island of curacao.
the pilot whale's name issully, and his story began injuly of 2009, when he stranded on a curacao beach. but he wasincredibly lucky to land there,since it's home to the curacao sea aquariumâ€”one ofthe few places in the entirecaribbean with the facilities and expertise to care for him. george kieffer, the presidentof the southern caribbeancetacean network was quick torespond when he got a telephone callalerting him to the strandedpilot whale on a beach only ten minutes from his office. i could tell right away it wasa pilot whale, but i didn'tknow if it was a male or a female but wow, it was askeleton. it was emaciated as awhale or dolphin could possibly
be and still be swimming. imean skin and bones. he had swam right out of thebay and could come back in thebay again, so i don't think he was disoriented. i think itwas one of those situationswhere this animal is physically incapable of keeping himself atthe surface so, i think a lotof times these animals will strand because they just don'twant to drown, you know? and ifthey can support themselves in the shallows, that's whatthey're looking to do. the sea aquarium staffimmediately sprang into action.because sully was too weak to stay afloat on his own, theyused foam pool floats to helpsupport his weight, and lots of human helpers.
next, they needed to get somefluids into him because he wasso dehydrated. using a funnel attached to a plastictube in his mouth, they pouredfresh water right into hissystem. although sully lives in the seaand is surrounded by water, hecan't drink any of it because it's salty. he gets all hisfresh water in the fish andsquid he normally eats. if he hasn't been eating, hehasn't been drinking either.without lots of water fast, his kidneys would fail. once sully was hydrated, georgedecided to see if he would eatanything. the dolphins at the sea aquarium likeherring, so george brought overa bucket of herring to try on sully. he wasn't sure if thewhale would accept food fromhim.
but sully was hungry and hegulped down the fish fromgeorge. he got so excited thatthey had a hard time keeping a holdon him! soon, they set up a makeshiftpen, mostly to keep sully safefrom boats and curious swimmers. sully had become a celebrity,and the crowds startedgathering. volunteers tookturns not just helping to keep himafloat, but making sure he wassafe. within only a few days, sullygained a lot of strength andlooked like he was ready to swim by himself. george: "okay? amy, drop off.drop off." the floatation devices wereremoved one at a time, andsully swam on his own!
george: "good kicks of thetail." but his road to recovery hadonly just begun. up until that point, thevolunteers were still callingcalling him "the whale." george decided the pilot whale neededa name. i started calling him sully asa nickname. i thought we oughtto be calling him something other than "the whale" so ithought pilot whale, who's afamous pilot? then i thought of the pilot who landed hisplane in the hudson and keptall 155 people alive afterfalling out of the sky with no enginesand i thought that's prettycool: "sully." within a few weeks, sully wasstrong enough that he wasgetting rambunctious. georgefelt
he needed so get some exercise.so they trained him to follow aboat. they started by feeding himfish from the boat inside hispen. once he was used to followingthe boat around for food insidethe pen, they took him just outside the pen and continuedthe training. sully learned very quickly, andwithin a few days he wouldfollow the boat way offshore at high speed. this dailyexercise helped him get hisstrength back so he could return to the wild. male voice on boat: "he's incharge of us. he tells us whenit's time to go." by the time i arrived on theisland 3 months later, sullywas back to full strength. he
was being fed lots of fishseveral times a day. and every day or so, georgewould give sully a rub down, toget the dead skin off. sully really enjoyed that! georgewould lie out on a boardsuspended above the water andsully would come right over. george: this is the only timewe touch him and it's to ruboff all that loose skin. but nobody ever went in thewater with the whale becausethey didn't want to acclimate him to humans. if he became toofriendly towards people, theymight never get him to go back to his own kind! he might juststart hanging around the beachlooking for people to play with.
but one question thatconstantly lingered in george'smind was: why did sully strand in the first place? what waswrong with sully, and was hebetter now? i joined george one morning ashe took sully out for his dailyexercise swim. he seemed completely rehabilitated. sullycould keep up with the boateasily. george decided sully was strong enough to go back tothe wild. george: "so we took himstraight out to sea and wefigured once we get out therewe'll just toss a few fish away fromthe boat and we'll leave him.and we did thatâ€”it took us about an hour offshoreâ€”wefigured we were at least 10miles out there. well, okay its deep ocean water, this istheir habitat, hopefully he'llcome across some pilot whales,
and we'll head on back! sowe're coming back at full speedand that boat, i'm estimating you're talking about 30 mph, somaybe 45 kph, we're moving! andso as we're heading back towards the island, a fewminutes later one of the crewon the boatâ€”there are two other trainers with me, naomiand juniorâ€”and naomi says 'ithink i see him back there!' " what they discovered is justhow fast sully can swim. evenat full throttle, they couldn't lose him, and he followed theboat all the way back to hispen. why wouldn't he go back to the wild? maybe he didn't want to bealone. so, george decided theonly way they would ever getsully
back to the wild would be tohook him up with a pod of pilotwhales. for weeks, every fisherman onthe island, and even the coastguard, were keeping an eye out for a pod of pilotwhales for sully. soon theyfound a pod. george and the sea aquarium staff led sully out tothe pod to make an introduction. ( voice off camera: ) "go, go,go, go! go man go. go man. gobuddy go!" unfortunately, sully had nointerest. he looked at the pod,and swam right back to the boat. once again, he followed themstraight back to his pen.clearly, sully had no intention of going back to the wild, butnobody knew why. unfortunately, sully couldn'tstay in his pen. first of allit was designed to be temporary,
and the volunteers couldn'twatch him forever. and, he waseating 60-70 pounds of fishevery day. the sea aquarium couldn'tafford to keep feeding him!they had to find another facility to take care of sully.someplace with the space andresources to handle a hungry pilot whale. fortunately, sea world in sandiego offered sully a permanenthome. soon george and his staff were preparing sully forhis first airplane ride. using a sling, they loadedsully onto a truck carrying acustom-made tank that would keep sully in the water for hisentire journeyâ€”over 3,000 miles! soon the truck departed fromthe curacao sea aquarium forthe airport.
sully was loaded onto a fedexjet for his $100,000 privatecharter directly to san diego. george and several volunteerswent along to help out. duringthe flight, they took turns pouring water onto sully tokeep him cool and relaxed at30,000 feet. six hours later, sully arrivedin san diego, where they tookhim straight to sea world. george was there too, andhelped get sully acquaintedwith his new home. soon he was swimming aroundâ€”none the worsefor wear. george: "good boy sully" in an effort to learn why sullystranded, the hubbs seaworldmarine institute got together with the u.s. navy marinemammal program to test hishearing. using sophisticatedgear,
they found the answer. sullycan't hear above 10 khz. anormal pilot whale should be able to hear up to at least100 khz. so basically, sully ishard of hearing. and without being able to hear those reallyhigh frequencies, he can't huntusing his echolocation in the deep ocean. without beingable to catch anything to eat,sully was slowly starving to death. since sully's life depends onbeing fed, he can never go backto the wild. it's a good thing sea worldvolunteered to take care of him. i head out to san diego tovisit my buddy sully, and assoon as i see the shamu-mobile, i know i'm in the right place!
sea world is known for theirincredible dolphin and whaleprograms that bring thousands of people to appreciate life inthe oceans. but what many people don'trealize is that sea world alsohas a huge rehabilitationprogram for stranded animals. i catch up with sully in one ofthe rehab tanks, far from thecrowds out front. he smiles for my camera. i wonder if heremembers me? jonathan: "we've been followinghis story." jen: "ok" jonathan: "this is thecompletion of his story."
jen: "yeah!!" soon i'm introduced to jennifershorney, one of sully'strainers. jen: "we all love sully. sullyhas a special place iseveryone's heart." jonathan: "is he a ham? he'shamming it up for the cameraover here." jen: "yes, yes, he absolutelyis a bit of a ham." jonathan: "so tell meâ€”what areyou feeding him?" jen: "sully gets a wide varietyof fish. a big bulk of his baseright now is squid, but he's also getting someherring, he's learning to eatcapelin as well as sardines, so he's eating all differenttypes of fish."
jonathan: "can i try feedinghim?" jen: "absolutely!" jonathan: "wow, so what do ido? just a couple fish?" jen: "yeah, just take a couplefish and toss them right on in!perfect. he's not particular about which way,front or back. you'll see himsometimes when he's rearranging the food he'll definitely pushout all the water. he gobbledthose down real quick." jonathan: "so 65 pounds a day?" jen: "yes." jonathan: "you're doing this alot." jen: "a lot. this is what wedo!"
jonathan: "how many times a day?" jen: "a lot!" ( sully blows mist ontojonathan ) jonathan: "oh thanks buddy!" jen: "we're going to bestepping down numerous numeroustimes a day to him." jonathan: "oh yeah, squid! lookat him, he's like 'ah ah ah iwant the squid, i want the squid!' alright,here it comes!" jen: "oh sully, you're so good!" jen: "sully's favorite time ofthe day, that he absolutelyloves...he loves to be rubbed down. so we call it theline of love, he loves it, andwhat we'll do is line ourselves
up back there and you'll seehim, it's almost like a carwash, he'll go back and forth and back and forth andjust absolutely loves it." i get the chance to join in onthe line of love and give sullya little rub. sully has put on over 200pounds since arriving at seaworldâ€”he's a growing whale,eating 65 pounds of fish and squidevery day. jen: "so as you can tell, he'sa pretty happy guy." jonathan: "well how could henot be? he's got three ladiesgiving him a rub down!" jen: "i know! i know!" soon, its play time. to keepsully intellectuallystimulated, his trainers givehim a rotating
selection of toys to play with.this one is his favorite. theycall it the sausage links. he likes to grab it in hismouth and pull it under water, which takes quite a bit offorce. jonathan: "he can pull thatthing under!" jen: "i know, right?" jonathan: "that thing must have50 pounds of positive buoyancy" jen: "it's amazing and looks soeasy for him. doesn't it?" he also likes his beach hat. jen: "he loves to collect histoys and bring them alltogether."
jonathan: "he's like, 'thiswould be easier if i hadthumbs!'" jen: i know, right, but he'squite good at maneuvering themall. jonathan: "oh, for a thumb!" jen: "oh sully. what's goingon? he's quite animated. therehe goes" jonathan: "like the last one?" both: "there he goes" jen: "now we're moving. now wegot it." so with his hearing damage,sully just can't go back to thewild. and how lucky is he that all the way from curacao, hemade it to sea world in sandiego, probably the best place
in the world for him. and he'sgoing to be taken care of forthe rest of his life. and get rub downs! one day sully will probablyperform at sea world, andanyone will be able to go meet him. sully owes his life to thepeople who vowed to save him:the staff at sea world san diego and the curacao seaaquarium. to these people, thisisn't just some stranded whale. he's sully, thedetermined pilot whale who,like his namesake, refused togive up even in the face ofoverwhelming odds.