Rare sperm whale dies after rescue

Honolulu Avertiser
Monday, May 1, 2001

Timothy J. Hurley
Avertiser Staff Writer

A'ALAEA, Maui - A rare dwarf sperm whale that was rescued from a Kihei beach yesterday died today while wildlife officials were returning it to the sea.

The 300- to 400-pound, 7-foot-long whale died on a state Department of Land and Natural Resources boat several miles into the channel between Maui and Kaho'olawe.

Scientists wanted to bring the whale back to shore for an necropsy examination to determine the cause of death.

But Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr. and two Native Hawaiian divers on board insisted the whale be returned to the ocean, Maxwell said today.

"It had been through enough stress," said Maxwell, a Native Hawaiian spiritual leader. "We asked that the spirit of the Hawaiian culture remain intact."

The whale spent the night at the Maui Ocean Center aquarium and was apparently in good shape after the 9 a.m. rescue at Kamaole Beach Park I by divers, lifeguards and personnel with state and federal agencies.

Wildlife officials said superficial wounds on the whale appeared to have been caused by a shark or from an injury that had occurred during the stranding.

Sperm Whale helpers

Sperm Whale

Ho`iho`i Mai