Stranded whale receives surfers' push back to sea
A pilot whale was helped back to sea late yesterday afternoon after it apparently was stranded at Kauai's Hanalei Beach.
Wendy Goo, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokeswoman, said two surfers pushed the whale into deeper waters.
The whale apparently had bite marks left by a shark, Goo said.
Goo said NOAA is still trying to get more information on the incident but believes the whale was able to swim away, as there have been sightings of it since then.
"There are number of incidents of whale beachings every year," she said.
The report of a whale beaching comes as the U.S. Navy prepares to begin its biennial Rim of the Pacific summer war games with seven Pacific Rim countries.
NOAA has said the use of sonar two years ago during RIMPAC exercises might have contributed to the beaching of more than 150 whales in Hanalei Bay. But NOAA was unable to say that the sonar caused the whales to gather in the bay.
However, critics say sonar endangers marine mammals and fish, especially whales. Environmentalists point to the Bahamas, where at least 16 whales and two dolphins beached themselves in 2000. Eight whales died, and scientists found hemorrhaging around the cetaceans' brains and ear bones, which could have been caused by exposure to loud noise.
NOAA gave the U.S. Navy a permit last week to allow the use of sonar by the 35 ships in the war games. However, the Navy had to agree to use sonar close to the beaches around the Hawaiian chain, and all warships are required to lower the power of their sonar when they come in close contact with whales or other marine mammals. The only exceptions are the channels between Maui and the Big Island and between Kauai and Niihau.
On Wednesday, environmental groups filed suit in Los Angeles to prevent the Navy from using active sonar during maritime exercises off Hawaii next month, saying the sound could harm whales and other marine mammals.
The Natural Resources Defense Council asked a federal court in Los Angeles to issue a temporary restraining order unless the Navy takes "effective measures" to protect marine life when it uses high-intensity, midfrequency active sonar to hunt submarines in the drills.
Joining the Natural Resources Defense Council in the suit are the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Cetacean Society International and Ocean Futures Society.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.