KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
A melon-headed whale in distress near Flat Island was spotted by a paddler yesterday afternoon. It prompted state officials to warn beach-goers, to stay out of the waters from Kailua Beach to Lanikai.
"We've been watching this whale struggling in the water since yesterday afternoon," said David Schofield, NOAA.
DLNR said it would be wise to keep out since the distressed whale *may* attract sharks close to shore, especially if it was wounded. Even with the advisory, many swimmers jumped in this morning, not feeling threatened.
"There was no danger or life guard coming out with a red flag, so we thought it was safe," said Madison Pound, a swimmer.
Many who heard about the marine animal were curious to see if they could spot it from the shoreline.... walking the beaches with binoculars in hand.
"Now we are in Kailua Beach, and we are still looking for the whale," said Joe Franke, a Lanikai resident.
NOAA along with DLNR set out to search for the whale at dawn.
"We had teams looking this morning from sun up and didn't find it," said Schofield.
The strong winds and choppy waters made it difficult to see during the early morning hours, but a little after 10 o'clock this morning- the animal was near spotted near Flat Island again eventually struggling to take its last breath and lose the battle at sea.
"It was kind of laying on its side," said Schofield.
The HPU Stranding Team came on scene to take away the rare whale that's cousins with the orca. These type of whales normally live far from shore in tropical and subtropical oceans. And they are described to have a body shaped like a torpedo and a rounded cone head.
"We decided that from a public safety stand point, we would tow the animal in and get it out of the water before sharks were attracted to it," saidSchofield.
Now it is in the hands of NOAA and DLNR to investigate how it died off the shores of Kailua.
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