Full Statement on the Passing of Rescue Ace the Pilot Whale

May 23, 2022

SeaWorld is sad to confirm that rescued short-finned pilot whale ‘Ace’ passed away recently at SeaWorld San Diego.  A necropsy is being performed to determine cause of death.

Ace and several other juveniles were rescued in 2012 by SeaWorld Orlando as part of the Southeast Standing Network.  They were the only animals deemed candidates for rehabilitation in a mass stranding of 22 short-finned pilot whales near Fort Pierce Florida. After successful rehabilitation at SeaWorld Orlando, U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service officials under NOAA determined they were dependent calves that could not survive in the wild and deemed them non-releasable. NOAA assigned custody of the animals to SeaWorld for long-term care and support. Ace was later transferred to SeaWorld San Diego in 2019, along with two other companion whales, to continue care.

Over the years, Ace and the other pilot whales from that stranding event participated in important studies to help us better understand hearing, digestive health, and body mass for their species.  Data gathered through their care and study is also used to compare and monitor visual body conditions in free-ranging animals through drone photographic / photography measurements, a specialized technique used by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) biologists.  Ace’s contributions toward helping the scientific community everywhere better assess the health and fitness of short-finned pilot whales is invaluable.

On the passing of Ace, Dr. Chris Dold, Chief Zoological Officer of SeaWorld, said, “As an accredited zoological facility and one of the largest marine animal rescue organizations in the world, we were privileged to play a role in giving Ace a second chance at life and to provide expert care for him for all of these years. Additionally, the knowledge gained from caring for him has directly informed the ability for SeaWorld and other marine mammal rescue organizations to successfully rescue and rehabilitate other pilot whales in distress and helped make it possible for us to return rehabilitated pilot whales back to their environment whenever possible.”   

Ace will be greatly missed by the team of SeaWorld care providers coast to coast that were closely bonded with him and by the millions of fans that enjoyed seeing him every day.

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