10 whales stranded alive on Maui beach, vets assessing them

August 29, 2019 - 5:28 pm

HONOLULU (AP) — Ten small whales were found stranded alive Thursday on a beach on the Hawaii island of Maui, officials said.

The animals were believed to be melon-headed whales, Jeffrey Walters, the wildlife management and conservation branch chief for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said in a statement.

NOAA veterinarians and University of Hawaii scientists were determining the best type of care for the whales on Sugar Beach in the community of Kihei, Walters said.

Kealoha Pisciotta, a Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner, said the whales are a manifestation of the sea god Kanaloa.

She and others want to float the whales so they can swim away or die dignified deaths. But she said NOAA officials won't let them near the whales.

"All we're seeking to do is have a relationship with our Kanaloa," she said.

NOAA did not immediately respond to requests for comment on her complaint.

Melon-headed whales are found in deep, tropical waters worldwide. They grow to be about 9 feet (3 meters) long.

There are an estimated 400 of the animals in the Hawaiian Islands.

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