A group of five pygmy killer whales appeared in the shallow waters off the coast of the Hawaiian island of Kihei in early May—a worrisome and rare sight, since the species’ habitat is far offshore in deep waters. The Honolulu Advertiser reports that the animals lingered for three weeks, until the group’s elderly 300-pound male beached on Maui and was later euthanized. A necropsy revealed that the whale had been emaciated and suffering from pneumonia, liver damage and weakened lungs when he stranded.
Little is known about the pygmy whale species. The fact that the podmates remained by the side of the dying whale illustrates the strong social bonds these animals can have and the way they care for one another.