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Dwarf sperm whale washes ashore on Maui

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 11:59 a.m. HST, Dec 26, 2013

KIHEI » A 7-foot beached whale was euthanized on Maui on Christmas Day.

The Maui News reports the dwarf whale washed ashore before hundreds of beachgoers at Kamaole Beach Park II in Kihei.

The whale was euthanized Wednesday night by a veterinarian from Oahu, said David Schofield, marine mammal health and response program manager at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The carcass was being taken to Hawaii Pacific University for analysis, Schofield said.

Karen Baylis, a visitor from Vancouver Island in British Columbia, said she saw three men trying to lift the beached whale back into the ocean at around 1:30 p.m. Baylis was sitting on the balcony of a nearby condominium with her nephew and rushed down to help the men.

She remembers grabbing the whale and being covered in blood.

"There was blood coming from the tail for sure and there were scratches all underneath on its underbelly," she said.

The group tried to carry the whale past the shore break into the ocean several times, Baylis said, but the whale kept swimming back to shore. She said that she notified lifeguards, who quickly taped off the area and contacted police and marine officials.

Volunteer beachgoers and sanctuary members poured ocean water onto the beached whale and covered its wounds with towels. They also built a sand wall around it to keep it submerged in ocean water.

Marine officials estimated that the whale weighed 500 to 600 pounds and was a mature whale.

Robyn Walters, a volunteer with the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, said the whale is a deep-water species that generally doesn't come ashore. She said the whales only beach themselves when they are very sick or injured.

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