MAALAEA - The dolphin that beached itself Friday morning on Wailea Beach died Saturday morning after marine mammal specialists monitored it overnight, a spokeswoman for the Maui Ocean Center said.
"Its health started to rapidly deteriorate, and it had to be euthanized," said Liz Warrick, Maui Ocean Center public relations manager, in a statement.
Warrick said the dolphin was undergoing a necropsy Saturday to determine the cause of death. After the examination, the dolphin was to be blessed by Kahu Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr. and returned to the ocean, according to Warrick.
The dolphin was identified by marine mammal experts at the center as a male striped dolphin. It previously was described as a Hawaiian spinner dolphin, a species commonly found around the islands.
It beached itself at around 9:30 a.m. Friday, and marine mammal specialists, hotel workers and beachgoers unsuccessfully attempted to return it to deeper water. After the dolphin persisted in returning to the beach, it was transported to Maui Ocean Center for examination.
The mammal did not appear to have significant exterior injury at the time, according to David Mattila, a research coordinator with the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.
But its behavior indicated it was ill.
The striped dolphin is commonly found around the Pacific in temperate as well as tropical areas, according to "The Sierra Club Handbook of Whales and Dolphins."
Both the striped dolphin and the spinner dolphin have distinctive markings, but the striped dolphin has three black stripes running from each eye.
Like the Hawaiian spinner dolphin, the striped dolphin normally travels in large pods and is known to frequent inshore waters.