Sick whale flown from Maui to Hilo

KIHEI, Maui (HawaiiNewsNow) - A whale found swimming near the shores of Maui took a flight to the Big Island this week. The beaked whale was found off south Maui, trying to beach itself, which is a sign that it's very sick.

Volunteers took care of the whale in the ocean for seven hours. Eventually 30 volunteers loaded the 12-foot long 1,600 pound whale onto a flatbed truck. The whale was then driven to Kahului airport where it was loaded onto a US Coast Guard transport plane.

It was taken to the new Hawaii Cetacean Rehabilitation Facility in Hilo, where scientists will perform tests to find out what's wrong with it. Hospital Assistant Director Jennifer Turner says the new facility has enabled scientists and volunteers to save stranded whales rather than euthanize them.

Beaked whales are the most extreme divers of all ocean mammals. They are able to dive to depths of over 6,000 feet for periods of over an hour at a time. To avoid getting the bends, they surface very slowly. Because of their habitat, beaked whales are very seldom observed.

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