The carcasses of two sperm whales were found on beaches on Maui and Lanai this week, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
David Schofield, NOAA spokesman, said a 5-foot sperm whale washed ashore on Hauola Beach on Lanai on Monday, but it had been dead for more than a week and its carcass was badly decomposed.
A pygmy sperm whale was found at about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday on Keawakapu Beach on Maui. Its carcass was flown by Aloha Air Cargo and taken to Hawaii Pacific University to be examined. Tissue samples from the 985-pound adult sperm whale found on Maui were sent to mainland laboratories, but it will take several months to determine how the animal died, Schofield said.
A necropsy conducted Thursday showed there was no sign of disease, but there was a fracture near the pygmy whale’s jaw area, he said.
No lab tests will be conducted on tissue from the sperm whale found on Lanai since the carcass was severely decomposed, Schofield said.
Schofield said scientists could not determine the cause of the fracture on the whale found on Maui, but it may have contributed to the whale’s death since an examination of the animal’s stomach disclosed that it had not eaten for 24 hours.
Before the animal was taken to HPU for the necropsy, Schofield says a Hawaiian cultural practitioner was called to perform a blessing over the whale.
In February 2014 the badly decomposed carcass of a pygmy sperm whale, about 12 feet long and weighing about a ton, washed into the Pearl Harbor channel. The carcass was too badly decomposed to determine the cause of death.