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Wednesday, July 30, 2014         

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Beached whale sent to Hilo after rescue on Maui

Officials are testing the animal's blood and checking its hearing

By Gary T. Kubota

POSTED:


A beaked whale weighing nearly a ton was rescued yesterday after beaching itself in South Maui.

It took 30 people to lift the whale onto the sand.

The stricken animal was flown later to a marine mammal rehabilitation pool in Hilo.

"The animal is still in the water and swimming on its own," said Jennifer Turner, assistant director of the Hawaii Cetacean Rehabilitation Facility in Hilo. "It's really, really quite exciting. ... At least the whale has a chance."

Turner said the new facility, open since December, has enabled scientists and volunteers to save a stranded whale rather than euthanize it.

Turner said a veterinarian was awaiting results of a blood test to determine why the whale was trying to beach itself.

Officials are also attempting to determine whether its hearing has been damaged, impairing its ability to navigate through sonar.

The whale received intravenous fluids to fight dehydration.

Officials at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary received a call at about 8 a.m. yesterday about a whale trying to beach itself near the tennis courts at Maui Sunset condominium.

She said sanctuary officials, along with a network of volunteers and a veterinarian, stayed with the whale until 3 p.m., when it was transferred onto a flatbed truck and taken to Kahului Airport for flight aboard a Coast Guard C-130 to Hilo.

David Schofield, the federal marine mammal response coordinator in Hawaii, said the whale was put into a hospital pool with 25,000 gallons of water.

He said the beaked whale is about 14 feet long and weighs 1,800 to 1,900 pounds.

Schofield said a beaked whale can grow to be about 24 feet long and weigh about 2,400 pounds.

He said beaked whales are known to swim to depths of thousands of feet.

"The fact this animal was near shore and even stranding suggest it was very, very sick," he said.






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