A critically endangered Hawaiian false killer whale found off the Big Island's South Point died from abnormal blood clots in the heart and lungs that led to breathing difficulties, a team led by Hawaii Pacific University marine mammal experts found.
Several conditions could have made the whale susceptible to blood clots, including infections, chronic heart disease or cancer.
Officials with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration have said this particular whale had been seen eight times between 2000 and 2014. It’s rare for Hawaii’s false killer whales to strand themselves, officials said, adding that it has happened three times in the last 17 years.
The next step in the investigation into the animal's death is to determine what underlying condition it might have had.
Just 200 Hawaiian false killer whales remain in the wild.
DLNR was recently awarded nearly $1.2 million dollars by the federal government to support the conservation and recovery of Hawaii’s endangered false killer whales.