In an unfortunate turn of events, 5 melon-headed whales have died as a result of stranding in Hawaii island of Maui in late August. The Sugar Beach in the coastal resort community of Kihei saw 10 whales stranded, while a calf was found dead on another beach a little further away. Veterinarians from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA) gave the verdict that 4 of the 10 stranded whales were in grave danger and beyond saving. While 6 of the whales were refloated, the 4 critical ones were given sedatives, made comfortable and humanely euthanized to relieve their suffering The 6 refloated whales stranded again, leading to 2 of their conditions becoming critical. They eventually stabilized and made out for the deep seas. Scientists from the University of Hawaii in collaboration with the NOAA will examine the dead whales to determine the cause of stranding. Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners objected to the euthanizing of the whales, with many of them believing the animals to be a manifestation of the sea god Kanaloa. They had wanted to hold up the whales in water to enable the creatures to either recuperate and swim away or die with dignity, but were prevented from nearing the whales by agents of NOAA. Hence they prayed before and after they were euthanized, performing a death rite. The melon-headed whale (Peponocephala electra), found in tropical waters, are cetaceans who can grow to 9ft, and are estimated to be about 400 in numbers in and around Hawaii.
As reported by The Economic Times
Image credits : NOAA fisheries