Dwarf sperm whale found dead on Makena shoreline

Photo courtesy of NOAA (NMFS Permit #18786)
Photo courtesy of NOAA (NMFS Permit #18786)

Necropsy results are in for a pregnant dwarf sperm whale found dead on Maui’s Makena shoreline over the weekend.

Officials say she did have signs of internal bruising and they believe she suffered some sort of trauma before dying. They add something like this is very unusual because these whales normally live in deep waters and usually avoid contact with humans.

Kristi West, Ph.D., from the marine science faculty at Hawaii Pacific University said “we don’t typically see signs of trauma and bruising like we did in this whale.”

West said her teams rarely examine dwarf sperm whales, which are known to feed under 3,000 feet of water.

“They are elusive. They have a unique behavior where they actually can emit a dark cloud of liquid from the large intestine similar to octopus ink and hide in that when they’re scared and want to escape from predators.”

Additional tissue samples have been sent to the mainland to see if the whale also had any diseases. Results from that analysis could take months.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that a witness saw two small whales stranded in Makena on Maui’s west shore around 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

When crews arrived, they discovered a dead 7-foot whale on shore.

NOAA, with help from Maui County and the Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources, removed the dead whale and transported it to Oahu for the necropsy.

NOAA reminds that if you see any stranded or deceased marine mammal to please call their 24-hour hotline at 1-888-256-9840.

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