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Three whale-vessel strikes reported in 24-hour period here

By Gary T. Kubota

LAST UPDATED: 8:52 p.m. HST, Jan 30, 2013

Federal conservation officials are looking into reports of three whale-vessel collisions in less than a 24-hour period off Hawaii island and Maui.

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration official said that in addition to a whale flipping a one-man outrigger canoe off West Hawaii Tuesday afternoon, two whale-vessel collisions are being investigated on Maui.

One of the collisions involved a whale calf about a half-mile off Lahaina Harbor at 4:40 p.m. Tuesday, and blood was seen in the water after the collision, NOAA official David Schofield said today.

Schofield, speaking at a news media conference this afternoon, said the other collision involved a whale about a mile out of Maalaea Harbor at about 6:30 a.m. today.

Officials said after the collision in Maalaea, people saw a whale with three slash-like wounds swimming in the vicinity with injuries that were not life-threatening.

Schofield said he did not have details at this time about the speed of the vessels involved in the accidents on Maui, or if the vessels were at fault.

The whale-canoe strike about a quarter-mile off Keauhou was reported at about 2:16 p.m. Tuesday.

The canoe paddler, a 60-year-old resident, swam toward shore and was picked up by a tour boat. He suffered cuts on his arms from jagged ends of his broken canoe, but was not seriously hurt.

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