NOAA: Whales that stranded themselves on Maui appeared to have infections

Imagery of pygmy killer whales off Hawaii
Imagery of pygmy killer whales off Hawaii((Image: Stephanie Stack/Pacific Whale Foundation with NOAA Permit #21321))
Published: Sep. 20, 2019 at 5:44 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The pygmy killer whales that stranded themselves on Maui last month had some degree of lung abnormalities and enlarged lymph nodes, NOAA researchers said.

This could indicate they were fighting infections.

One of the calves, meanwhile, was suffering from pneumonia.

The stranding happened Aug. 29 near Maui’s Sugar Beach. Ten whales stranded themselves.

After several attempts to get the animals back in the water ― and the sighting of a large tiger shark in the area ― officials made the decision to euthanize four of the whales.

The other six whales were pushed back into the ocean.

“We’re not euthanizing whales to collect samples,” said David Schofield, of the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program at NOAA. “We’re euthanizing after a lot of consideration and again we’re making that decision based on animal welfare and public safety and human safety.”

Scientists say it will be months before all testing is completed.

They say they are also conducting disease screenings and inner ear tests to see if the whales were exposed to noise trauma.

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