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Rare whale rescued from a Maui beach dies after 2 weeks

[ 2010-09-01 11:42]     字号 [] [] []  
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A rare deep-diving whale rescued from a Maui beach earlier this month has died after spending two weeks at a dolphin and whale hospital on Hawaii's Big Island, federal officials said on Monday.

A necropsy showed the male Blainville's beaked whale had moderate pneumonia, a severe gastrointestinal problem, and kidney disease, said David Schofield, a marine mammal response coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Each of these diseases could have killed the animal, Schofield said. It's not clear how the whale contracted the illnesses, though a viral infection is one possibility.

"We're sending tissues out for analysis to learn why it perished so quickly," Schofield told reporters.

The Coast Guard flew the whale to Hilo from Maui so it could be cared for at the Hawaii Cetacean Rehabilitation Facility. The 3.5-meter-long, 800-kg animal was found stranded at a Kihei beach on Aug 16.

Scientists haven't had a chance to study beaked whales very much because they're frequently diving in deep waters hunting for squid. Schofield says the whales spend only about 3 percent of their time at the surface.

Few beaked whales have survived more than a few days after being rescued from a stranding. The longest a beaked whale has lived after being rescued is four weeks, Schofield said.

"If you have a deep-diving animal that's coming in from far offshore, it's spending a lot of time deteriorating. By the time we get it, it's in really bad shape," Schofield said.

Beaked whales have been known to be more vulnerable to the harmful effects of Navy active sonar than other whales. Scientists aren't sure why, but one theory is that sonar may startle the deep-diving whales, causing them to surface too rapidly and suffer ear damage.

But Schofield says there's no sign this animal was affected by sonar.

A hearing test conducted in Hilo showed the whale was hearing normally. Officials also plan to conduct a CT scan on the whale's head to learn more.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Rare whale rescued from a Maui beach dies after 2 weeks

About the broadcaster:

Rare whale rescued from a Maui beach dies after 2 weeks

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.