It was sad situation out of Kalama Beach in Windward Oahu on Sunday after a baby whale was spotted swimming by itself in search of its mother.
NOAA has been monitoring the situation in Kailua, but officials say its chances of survival are slim.
Beachgoers say the unexpected spotting was hard to watch.
“It’s pretty sad. I’m looking forward to the whale season and I guess we’re not able to see this one,” said beachgoer Jose Majia of Waipahu.
What’s believed to be a baby melon-headed whale, about 5 feet long, was easily spotted 100 yards from shore.
NOAA says the baby was in distress.
“The current theory is that this calf was somehow separated from its mother, and is out there looking for its mother, or looking for pod mates,” said David Schofield, manager of NOAA’s Marine Mammal Health and Response Program.
NOAA found the remains of a whale, and thinks the calf’s mother was attacked by a shark.
KHON2 was told the only thing NOAA can do is watch, wait and monitor the baby whale, and hope for the best case scenario.
NOAA hopes a pod of whales will rescue the lone calf, but otherwise, NOAA says it’s possible the baby whale will either strand on the beach, or natural selection will take place.
“If it comes to shore we will do everything we can to provide it with most humane treatment,” Schofield told KHON2 on the scene.
KHON2 asked what that meant.
“Support it, give it sedation, and make it comfortable in its final hours,” responded Schofield. “We would not attempt to rehabilitate a dependent calf. What a calf needs is its mother, its mother milk, its ability to teach it.”
Meanwhile, City and County of Honolulu Ocean Safety lifeguards, State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) officers and NOAA officials are keeping a watchful eye.
Meanwhile, lifeguards posted precautionary shark warning signs. They’re expected to stay up until sometime Tuesday.
NOAA recommended the action after spotting the carcass and calf.
Lifeguards will be warning people both in the water and onshore about the potential hazard.
As of Monday afternoon, the baby whale could still be seen swimming about 200 yards offshore. Earlier in the day, two sharks were seen about 1,500 yards offshore, but were not seen later in the day.
KHON2 was told volunteers will be monitoring the beach for days to come, because that’s how long it could take the baby whale to strand on the beach.