Rare whale flown to treatment facility dies

Volunteers on Maui assist in transporting the rare whale
Volunteers on Maui assist in transporting the rare whale

HILO, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – An extremely rare whale that beached itself on Maui earlier this month has died, according to officials at NOAA. The Blainesville's beaked whale that was flown by Coast Guard transport to a special marine mammal recovery center on the Big Island died Sunday afternoon despite much effort to save its life.

A necropsy of the male was performed Sunday night and revealed the whale suffered from moderate pneumonia, severe gastrointestinal disease, kidney disease and deteriorating body condition. Scientists say that no Blainesville's beaked whale has ever successfully been reintroduced to the wild.

The whale beached itself on August 16 near Kihei, Maui. It took 30 volunteers to load 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 specialists worked to feed the animal and give it medication to fight internal infections. It was said to be in guarded stable but stable condition until it eventually succumbed to illness.

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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