Marine Mammal Experts Attempt Two Whale Rescues

Pygmy Whale on Moloka'i
Pygmy Whale on Moloka'i

There's word of another attempt to save a distressed whale.

On Sunday, rescuers freed a Humpback whale entangled in fishing line.

Just a day later, rescuers tried to save a beached whale on Molokai.

They were trying to get to the pygmy or dwarf sperm whale Monday morning.

But before experts could decide how to help the whale, the high tide helped push it out to sea.

And now experts worry its injuries are so severe it may not survive at all.

The whale had lacerations from the reef and shark bites.

Expert David Schofield said when a whale beaches itself, it's never a good sign.

"If they make that behavioral commitment to strand themselves on a beach, they're very, very sick," said Schofield, a marine mammal response network coordinator for NOAA.

A veterinarian was scheduled to fly out to Kalaupapa to inspect the animal.

The wounds were so severe, the only options were to either transport the whale to a rehabilitation center or to put it to sleep.

"But it's not advisable to push animals back in the wild," according to Schofield, "there's a lot going on, when it's finally stranded and to push it back in the water is like taking somebody in a car accident and throwing them out to traffic."

But high tide helped the whale swim back to sea, before rescuers could tend to it.

Now its chances for survival are slim.

"It was still in a state of shock, traumatized and likely died shortly after," explained Schofield.

A happier ending one day before, in waters off Lana'i - where rescuers were able to free a humpback whale.

The whale was entangled in fishing gear and large flotation devices weighed it down.

But rescuers were able to attach more flotation devices to the fishing gear and that helped slow down the animal...allowing them to cut it free.