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Wednesday, April 24, 2002




art
COURTESY OF NOAA
A 15-foot-long Blainville's beaked whale, rarely seen in Pacific waters, beached itself and died yesterday on Maui.



Whale beaches
and dies on Maui

It was a Blainville's beaked whale,
rarely seen in Pacific waters


By Gary T. Kubota
gkubota@starbulletin.com

WAILUKU >> Federal marine fisheries officials were planning to bury a rare whale at sea today after conducting a necropsy to determine the cause of its death.

The whale beached itself before dying yesterday morning at Kamaole Beach I in South Maui.

The 15-foot-long Blainville's beaked whale, weighing 1,200 to 1,500 pounds, is not often observed in the Pacific, and little is known about it, including its numbers worldwide, said Claire Cappelle, the Maui liaison for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

"It's very rarely seen. A lot of people are interested in this animal," Cappelle said.

Cappelle said officials have determined it is a male adult but do not know its age.

Although present in all the world's oceans, the Blainville's beaked whale is found along the Atlantic Coast and near South Africa, with small groups sighted in Hawaii, especially off the Waianae Coast, according to the book "Whales, Dolphins & Porpoises," written by Mark Carwardine.

Lifeguard captain Jeffrey Meadows said he saw the whale slowly moving closer to shore about 8:50 a.m.

Meadows said he and a few other county lifeguards tried twice to help the whale into deeper water, but it kept swimming toward the sandy coastline at Kamaole I Beach Park. Meadows said he was told by National Marine Fisheries officials to allow the whale to beach itself.

Once on land about an hour after being sighted, the whale stopped breathing.



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