HONOLULU – Five whales died, including four who were killed after being stranded on a beach on Hawaii's Maui on Thursday.
Ten whales with melon heads were found living early in the morning on Sugar Beach in Maui the coastal community of Kihei.
Hours later, a walkalb, suspected of belonging to the same social group, was found dead on the beach about a mile north, said David Schofield, the regional marine mammal response coordinator at the National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration ,
NOAA veterinarians found that four of the whales were in grave condition and nothing more could be done to save them, Jeffrey Walters, the NOAA branch for wildlife management and conservation, said in a statement.
He made himself comfortable with a sedative, and then humbled it humanely to relieve their suffering.
The remaining six whales were swum back into the ocean but stranded again, Schofield said. NOAA initially said the forecast for two of the six was not good, but they finally made it.
Officials plan to oversee the area on Friday if they return. One or two of the six are likely to be weakened, he said.
"The last time we saw them, they seemed to be moving healthily in deeper waters, so we hope they could orient themselves and be able to do so at sea," Schofield said.
Walters said that the scientists from NOAA and the University of Hawaii will study the whales to determine what has caused the stranding whales, animals that she said are a manifestation of the sea god Kanaloa.
She and others wanted to keep the whales in the water so they could recover and swim away or die dignified deaths. But she said NOAA officials would not let her near the whales.
"All we want to do is relate to our Kanaloa," she said.
Walters said NOAA has worked closely with Hawaiian cultural practitioners. who prayed before and after the euthanasia of the whales.
"We will continue to work as closely as possible with practitioners and other community members as we perform our mission to conduct stranded responses and homelessness investigations in the context of marine mammal protection," Walters said.
Pisciotta said that nine practitioners were at the scene, performing a death rite, calling the ancestors and Akua or gods to quickly catch the whales. She said that they only performed the rite because the animals were killed. She said the practitioners never agreed to euthanasia.
"We're not saying you can not do an autopsy, we just say you give them the chance to die normally," she said.
Whales with melon heads can be found in deep, tropical waters worldwide. They are about 3 feet long and bear the name of the bulge in the forehead.
An estimated 400 animals live in the Hawaiian Islands.
Last time, so many marine mammals stranded together In Hawaii, two pilot whales died two years ago in the port of Nawiliwili in Kauai. The cause of this stranding is still under investigation.
In 2004, about 150 whales with melon heads were stranded in Kauai's Hanalei Bay. A whale died The report, published in 2006, suggests that nearby predators or other factors could also have contributed to the incident. The navy held its biennial exercises at the time on the Pacific Ocean in Hawaii.