HONOLULU – Five whales have died, four of which were euthanized after massively stranded on a beach on the island of Maui in Hawaii on Thursday.
Ten whales with melon heads were found stranded alive early in the morning in Sugar Beach, in the seaside resort of Kihei.
A few hours later, a whale calf suspected of belonging to the same social group was found dead on the beach, about one kilometer north, said David Schofield, National Marine Mammal Intervention Coordinator. Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
NOAA veterinarians determined that four of the whales were in serious condition and nothing could be done to save them, said Jeffrey Walters, NOAA's Wildlife Conservation and Conservation Branch, in a statement. communicated.
The animals were prepared with a sedative, then humanely euthanized to relieve their suffering, he said.
The remaining six whales were bailed out in the ocean but are again blocked, Schofield said. The NOAA had initially stated that the prognosis for two of the six was not good, but they eventually did.
Officials plan to monitor the area on Friday in case they come back. One or two of the six are probably weakened, he said.
"The last time we saw them, they seemed to move in a healthy way to deeper waters, so we hope they'll find their bearings and get to the sea." said Schofield.
Walters said scientists from NOAA and the University of Hawaii will examine the whales to determine the cause of the grounding.
Kealoha Pisciotta, a practitioner of Hawaiian indigenous culture, opposed the euthanasia of whales, animals that she says are a manifestation of the god of the sea Kanaloa.
She and others wanted to keep the whales in the water so they could recover and swim or die in death. But she said NOAA officials would not allow them to approach whales.
"All we are trying to do is maintain a relationship with our Kanaloa," she said.
Walters said NOAA was working closely with practitioners of Hawaiian culture who had prayed before and after whale euthanasia.
"We will continue to work with practitioners and other community members wherever possible, while fulfilling our mandate to conduct a failed survey and post mortem examinations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act." said Walters.
Pisciotta said that nine practitioners were on the scene and performed a death rite, in which they called the ancestors and the akua or gods, so that the whales could be taken quickly. She said that they only performed the rite because the animals were being killed. She said that practitioners have never accepted euthanasia.
"We are not saying that you can not do an autopsy, we're just saying give them a chance to die normally," she said.
Bowhead whales are found in the deep tropical waters of the world. They reach about 3 meters long and bear the name of the bulge of their forehead.
There are an estimated 400 animals in the Hawaiian Islands.
The last time many marine mammals were stranded in Hawaii, it was two years ago, when five pilot whales died in the port of Nawiliwili, Kauai. The cause of this stranding is still under study.
Previously, about 150 bowhead whales had nearly failed in Hanalei Bay at Kauai in 2004. A whale is dead.
The NOAA report on this incident indicates that Navy sonar may have contributed to near miss, but officials lack evidence to conclusively demonstrate that the technology has triggered it.
The report, published in 2006, indicated that nearby predators or other factors may also have contributed to the incident. The navy organized its biweekly exercises "Rim of the Pacific" in Hawaiian waters at the time.