Beached dolphin dies despite rescue efforts
For several hours at Bellows Beach yesterday morning, Kailua patrol officer Jack Wright Jr., federal officials and others struggled to keep a beached dolphin alive.
But despite their efforts to save the male striped dolphin, it had to be euthanized, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials said.
Officials commended Wright and others who tried to help, holding the dolphin in the water for several hours to keep it alive.
"He got out of his police uniform and got into the water to try and provide aid to the animal," NOAA marine biologist David Schofield said about Wright. "It was well beyond the call of duty."
Schofield said area residents were the first to come across the dolphin at about 6:30 a.m. and tried taking it back into deeper water, only to have it swim back to shore and beach itself. Wright took the dolphin out as well, but it returned.
That was when Wright tried to keep the animal wet until Schofield and a veterinarian arrived sometime before 9:30 a.m.
"This species is known to be in deep water, far offshore," he said, "so right away you know he's very far away from where he should be.
"For this animal to make the behavioral decision to strand itself ... it must have been in very bad shape," Schofield said.
Honolulu firefighters, Bellows Air Force Base security and conservation officers from the Department of Land and Natural Resources also responded and tried to help.
Finally, Schofield and a veterinarian put the dolphin on some foam in the back of a truck, drove up the road to a shady spot and euthanized it with an injection of barbiturates.
Schofield said there were no obvious reasons why the dolphin stranded itself, such as open wounds from a shark attack. A necropsy is expected to be performed on the dolphin today to help determine if there was anything "abnormal" about its death.
"At this point in time, there's no indication that this animal had a direct cause of death with the waste relieved into the ocean," he said. "It's not likely that the pollution had something to do with this animal's death, but we need to perform an in-depth investigation."
Schofield said there are 20 to 25 dolphins and whales that strand themselves statewide every year. So far this year, there have been three dolphins and two humpback whales that have stranded themselves.
"It's not uncommon," he said.