5 #whales dead after 10 stranded on #MauiBeach, #Hawaii, #USA
KARI PLAS VIA AP
FIVE WHALES DIED Thursday after a mass stranding on a beach on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
Ten melon-headed whales were discovered stranded alive Thursday morning on Sugar Beach in the coastal community of Kihei and a calf believed to be part of the social group was found dead hours later about a mile away, David Schofield, the regional marine mammal response coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told the Associated Press.
Veterinarians with NOAA determined that four of the stranded whales were in too poor of a condition to be saved, Jeffrey Walters, NOAA’s wildlife management and conservation branch, said in a statement.
The whales were sedated and euthanized to relieve their suffering, Walters said, according to AP.
The remaining six whales were floated back into the ocean but became stranded again. Schofield said NOAA personnel believed two more of the whales were at risk of dying but eventually made it back out into the sea. One or two of the whales is likely debilitated, he added.
Officials planned to monitor the area Friday in case the whales returned, AP reported.
“The last time we saw them they seemed to be moving in a healthy manner to deeper waters. So it’s our hope that they got their bearings about them and were able to head out to sea,” Schofield said.
Some objected to the way officials handled the situation. Kealoha Pisciotta, a Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner, protested against the euthanization of the four whales. She said melon-headed whales are a manifestation of the sea god Kanaloa.
Pisciotta and other volunteers wanted to hold the whales in the water so they could swim away or die dignified deaths, but she said NOAA officials would not let her near the animals.
Walters said that personnel worked with cultural practitioners at the scene and prayed before and after the whales were euthanized. Cultural practitioners performed a death rite for the animals, AP reported. but did not agree to euthanizing the whales.
Courtesy of usnews.com