Scientists and veterinarians are trying to decide how to care for two small whales that were found stranded Thursday on a beach in Maui, after four whales died and four others were successfully refloated. They appear to be melon-headed whales, a protected species, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration statement said. The agency team decided four of the 10 wouldn't survive, so they were given a sedative and then euthanized, KHON reports. The other six were refloated, but two of those quickly stranded again. The veterinarians were assessing their conditions, but the agency said they'll probably have to be euthanized as well.
A Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner had wanted earlier Thursday to float the whales so they can swim away or have dignified deaths, per the AP. But she said NOAA officials won't let anyone near the whales, and the agency didn't comment immediately. The agency said it's working with scientists from the University of Hawaii at Sugar Beach, per Hawaii News Now. Hawaii is thought to have about 400 of the whales, which can reach about 9 feet long. They're found around the world in deep, tropical waters. (Read more beached whale stories.)