Hawaii & Alaska
NOAA mammal response team tending to one of the pygmy killer whales. NOAA PERMIT #18786 AIMEE LEMIEUX

Two More Stranded Whales Euthanized Near Maui Beach

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists euthanized two pygmy killer whales Tuesday after the mammals stranded themselves on Sugar Beach in Kihei, Maui. It's near where other whales beached themselves last month.

For the past week-and-a-half, NOAA had been monitoring a group of six pygmy killer whales milling in the area. The euthanized whales were part of that pack.

David Schofield, NOAA’s regional marine mammal stranding response coordinator, said when he and veterinarians on the scene assessed the health of the pygmy killer whales, they were showing signs of severe body deterioration.

Among the signs the whales were not fit to survive in the wild were blood samples that revealed low alkaline phosphatase levels, which indicates infection and bad nutrition.

“When these whales strand, they strand for a reason. They usually strand because they are very, very sick,” said Schofield. “The alkaline phosphatase levels in these whales showed basically it would have been inhumane to put these animals back out into the wild.”

This is the second time in the past few weeks that scientists were forced to euthanize pygmy killer whales due to a mass stranding.

On Aug. 29, 10 pygmy killer whales stranded themselves, also on Sugar Beach. In that case, NOAA was able to float six of the whales back to sea. However, four had to be euthanized.

Read full Hawaii Public Radio article . . .