Scoliosis, not collision, likely left whale bent, expert says
Birds in Paradise owner-flight instructor Gerry Charlebois photographed this distressed humpback whale off an Hawaiian island.
February 11th, 2011
10:42 AM ET

Scoliosis, not collision, likely left whale bent, expert says

Experts are now saying a hobbled whale seen Monday near Hawaii's Kauai Island was not injured but suffers from a chronic condition, a local newspaper reports.

The distressed humpback whale probably has scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, said David Schofield, marine mammal response coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

Gerry Charlebois, owner and instructor of Birds in Paradise Flight School, spotted the whale from the air Monday and suspected the marine mammal had been injured by a ship.

Schofield discounted that diagnosis.

"They're not like cartoon animals," he said, according to the Star Advertiser. "They don't hold the shape of the contusion. Sometimes they'll have like a little imprint, but it's just not too plausible to see that if the animal had been impacted there that the peduncle or the tail shaft would've stayed that way."

The animal's pale, mottled skin and emaciated condition indicate it is in distress, but probably not from a ship collision, he told the paper. Much of the whale's behavior described by Charlebois is normal, he added.

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Filed under: Animals • Hawaii • Science • Whales
soundoff (171 Responses)
  1. GORDON OBER

    We hit a whale with the Submarine i was on back in1986 i think. more then likely we killed it, we were runing about 20
    knots. But maybe this is the one we hit and just broke its back. life is hard every were.

    February 18, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. patrick

    Not jerks anymore. Well, let this whale be a stand-in for all the whales that were hit by ships that didn't have the chance to pose for a photograph. Our jerkdom is untarnished.

    February 18, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Cam

    Gee, I wonder what's got that whale so BENT OUT OF SHAPE! ZING!

    February 22, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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