LIHUE — It could be months before officials determine what caused a 16-foot, short-finned pilot whale to die and wash ashore in Hanalei Bay last week.
A team consisting of staff and personnel from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Land and Natural Resources and Hawaii Pacific University conducted a necropsy on the whale Saturday, but the examination “did not produce results indicative of the cause of death,” according to a release.
Tissue analysis intended to help determine the cause is underway but results will take several weeks to produce, NOAA said. A report will be released to the public when the investigation is completed.
NOAA said the superficial, circular wounds evident on the whale’s carcass were caused by cookie-cutter shark bites — a common injury on marine mammals.
An aerial survey was conducted the day of the stranding within a 15-nautical-mile radius, and no other whale strandings or whales in distress were detected.
A Hawaiian cultural blessing was conducted at the stranding site and the whale carcass was buried nearby after the necropsy was completed, the federal agency said.