Necropsies reveal no 'obvious' cause of death for whales in mass stranding

Published: Oct. 19, 2017 at 4:20 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 19, 2017 at 11:14 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Preliminary necropsies for five whales that died in a mass stranding on Kauai last week showed "no obvious cause of death" for the animals.

University of Hawaii, NOAA Fisheries and state Department of Land and Natural Resources personnel conducted the necropsies.

Samples were taken for further lab analysis of possible pathogens, toxins or trauma.

"At this time, we have not yet determined a reason for the stranding," NOAA Fisheries said, in a news release. "Mass strandings for this particular species are fairly common globally."

Several potential causes have been ruled out:

  • The Navy says they were not using mid-frequency active sonar or in-water explosives at the time of the stranding.
  • NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer wasn't using seafloor imaging systems before the incident.
  • No other NOAA ships were underway off Hawaii at the time.

Meanwhile, UH and DLNR are studying whether the whales had any rodenticide in their systems. Rodenticide was applied to Lehua Island about a month ago to kill off rats at the bird sanctuary.

Officials said the results of the tests will take some time to return.

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