Hawaii pilot spots badly injured whale
Birds in Paradise owner-flight instructor Gerry Charlebois photographed this mortally injured humpback whale off the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
February 9th, 2011
12:06 PM ET

Hawaii pilot spots badly injured whale

A humpback whale with an apparently broken back has been spotted in waters near Hawaii, a newspaper reports.

Gerry Charlebois, who takes student pilot/tourists for coastal excursions in ultralight aircraft, spotted the injured whale from the air Monday in shallow water near Kauai.

"He wasn't moving his fluke and was just staying near the surface and sort of limping down the coast," he said. "It's kind of sad to see a full adult whale in that condition. ... It's definitely something he's not recovering from."

"This is one of the most disturbing sights I've ever experienced while photographing whales," Charlebois, the owner of Birds in Paradise Flight School, told The Garden Island Newspaper. "It was freaky. The whale was bent in half. Obviously some kind of blunt force trauma on the side. The poor guy was in trouble."

A large boat or ship must have struck the whale, which hasn't been seen since Monday, he said. Humpbacks normally are pretty agile, so this one may have been old or sick an unable to move out of a ship's way, he said.

Birds in Paradise manager Kirk Johnson said Charlebois and others on the flight first thought they'd seen an albino whale, but when they came around to take another look, they could see that it was discolored instead.

Ed Lyman of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary on Maui told the paper the whale appeared to be in poor health - emaciated, shedding skin and surrounded by parasites - and there is no established method for euthanizing a large whale.

These big whales tend to die slowly, Charlebois said. When they do, they sink to the bottom until decomposition gases make them float to the surface, where they attract large numbers of hungry sharks, he said.

"It's amazing to see these 15-foot sharks all feeding on a whale," Charlebois said. "You don't want to be snorkeling around there. You don't want to be in that neighborhood."

Charlebois said he and his three other pilots would look for signs of the injured whale again today.

About 2,000 humpback whales live in the waters off Alaska, and many of them migrate to Hawaii's warm waters between November and May, according to Earthtrust.org. Whale watching is a major part of Hawaii's tourism industry. Adult humpbacks range in size from 35 to 48 feet, and weigh about 1 ton per foot.

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Filed under: Animals • Environment • Hawaii • Whales
soundoff (615 Responses)
  1. Nature's Awe

    It's always sad to see something so majestic suffer a lingering illness/injury. I hope the end is near for this poor creature.

    February 9, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • ummm.....riiiiiiiight......

      Is it less sad for a creature less majestic to experience lingering suffering?

      February 9, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JT

    Why isn't there a "report" button ?

    February 9, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Linda

      there is

      February 9, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • JT

      By all means, if I start to post profanity laced diatribes, report me. I think you can guess who I'm refering to (mohammed) and I still don't see a report button.

      But I guess it's okay to let them have free reign over the comment boards.

      I'm willing to give whoever may moderated reported comments enough benefit of the doubt. And why would I care about free speech on a private website? As long as they aren't editing my posts to say something I didn't they can remove them as fast as they'd like.

      February 9, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • ummm.....riiiiiiiight......

      heehee..... I just used it on Denizen Kate

      February 9, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • jordan

      i no right

      February 9, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. petprofiteer

    Who cares? It's just another animal, there are plenty more where that one came from. Humans have domain over all creatures. That's what the Bible says! .

    February 9, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • k

      Petprofiteer; if you're going to be an ass, don't quote the bible. It gives decent, humane Christians a bad reputation.

      February 9, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • die

      k, i think he/she was being sarcastic. 🙂

      February 9, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • huggies

      sushi for everyone!

      February 9, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Micle

      you must be from that church that protests outside of funerals or something.....you m0r0n

      February 9, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Weedly

    I will tell you what; I will make a copy of these comments and give it to the whale. He will die from bordom.

    February 9, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • afra

      You are so funny!

      February 9, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sam

    I don't like seeing this whale suffer, if a ship hit it that's messed up.

    February 9, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. PPl suck

    It is very sad that this poor animal has to suffer. Whales are social animals just as we are, this poor animal is alone , hurt and suffering. At the least we need to try and alleviate the pain and suffering this poor animal is going through. How can you not feel empathy for this poor animal.

    February 9, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • ummm.....riiiiiiiight......

      I feel sympathy for the animal.... but given that I'm not a 45 ton marine mammal, it's rather difficult for me to feel empathy.

      February 9, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Realistic

    Whales and other aquatic animals are FAR more agile and have the ability to change course in the water much quicker than any boat or man-made vessel. If it even was a boat that hit it, this whale should have seen it coming and gotten out of the way. Maybe this whale was suicidal and swam in front of an oil tanker on purpose. What if the whale got in a fight with a giant squid at the bottom of the ocean and the squid grabbed him and broke his back? In the end, this giant animal is going to feed a lot of sea creatures. Sad to see it die this way but my sympathy for the whale ends there.

    February 9, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • huggies

      yah. this whale definitely needs prozac.

      February 9, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Micle

    It's sad to see how many incensitive people we have in this world. PETPROFITEER saying "who cares"....he must be from the slums or detroit or something...you haven't experienced the beauty of nature. HUMANS are the trash of this planet. We destroy everything. THANK YOU SEASHEPERD ORG.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 9, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jamor


      1) It's insensitive.
      2) Your comments about Detroit are pretty "incensitive " - have you ever been here? If not, then save that crap.
      3) it's sad that you care more about whales than you do people, and that you think humans are the trash of this planet.

      February 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • ummm.....riiiiiiiight......

      I lived just outside of Inskter near Detroit for over a year. Nicest people you'd ever want to meet.

      February 9, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Micle

      You must be the spelling monitor!
      I have no desire to go to Detroit, but thanks anyway. I'm just going by the MURDERr rate of the city, its a DUMP!!!
      I never said I cared more about animals than people, HOWEVER, if you look at our track record, humans are the worst animals of all. Look at what we did to the indians, jews, blacks, irish, world wars.
      There are nice people outhere, however, the majority, like the ones in this blog, are selfish and only care about themselves, that's why this planet is going down the drain!!!

      February 9, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • redd52

      then get off this planet!! no one asked you. go get in the water with the whale and jump inside its mouth and die.

      February 9, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • justincase

      So? Animals murder all the time. Our population compared to theirs is mere numbers, and if you haven't taken notice you do nothing but contribute to the demise of people as much as the next. That is the only part that irks me about people saying things all fall on our shoulders (humans) yet seem to think they're better than everyone. We're dominant beings on the planet for a reason, let's make some ideas to improve, or die. Period.

      February 9, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. FestusX

    Whale bajinker

    February 9, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dumplin

    Whale bajiner.

    February 9, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Browneye McGraw

    Now THAT'S what I call a whale bajiner.

    February 9, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. the troll

    I love whales with mashed taters and gravy!

    February 9, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. EmeraldCity

    Hope this poor thing is dead now and out of its misery.

    February 9, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Joshua Ludd

    That is so incredibly sad.

    February 9, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jetvet

    Maybe it's a new species... the brokeback whale.

    February 9, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • War919

      Now that was the funniest one yet!

      February 9, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • ummm.....riiiiiiiight......

      I literally LOL'd at that one!

      February 9, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
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