Muggy start to the week

Monday started out warm and muggy, but, finally, I got the all clear to start running again, my foot is healed! Unfortunately, that means I start all over again. I hope to get Charlie to join me, but right now his leg is all black and blue from tearing a quad muscle when he ran for a fly ball. So it will be slow for both of us.

We watched the sunset at Lawai Beach Monday evening, much cooler than the house. Kathy and Peter had taken a grocery store ‘take out’ meal down there earlier, so we joined them in watching the sun set.

It’s definitely mango season here – the three trees across the road from us are bursting with mangoes. The trees hang over the road, and the dropping mangoes are smashed all over the road. A number of locals have been stopping with their long fruit picking poles to gather the fruit.

Joanie and Doug had a bunch of us over for dinner on Tuesday night. It was a great meal: shrimp and chicken wings for pupus, roast prime rib, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes and gravy, Caesar salad, and for desert strawberry/blueberry/raspberry shortcake. Plus the usual assortment of wines and gin & tonics. Joanie always over does it, but it sure was good! We met a new couple there – we had been told in advance that the wife is related to the energizer bunny. The stories were very accurate, she’s definitely a live wire. Afterwards Charlie said the she should be put on a variable speed drive and operated at 30 Hertz. I guess that means half speed. But all in all a fun evening.

My first run in 2 months was awesome! I had really missed it though I only went a mile and a half of run/walking. It just felt good.

We were asked to go up to help tag K30’s pup on Friday, but on the way up to meet the coordinators we got a call that a whale had stranded up at Hanalei. So the mission changed dramatically. It was determined to be a young male pilot whale and he was very recently deceased. It was very sad but it was also touching when a local fisherman brought tea leaves to honor the whale and a pastor gave a Hawaiian blessing before we could move him.

The whale.

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The pastor before giving the blessing with several volunteers that were supposed to keep spectators at a distance and explain what was happening.

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After the chant and blessing, two end loaders came in to lift and move the carcass onto a trailer so that it could be transported to a more isolated location to perform a necropsy.

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The equipment operators were extremely skilled and gently and respectfully moved the whale onto the trailer. The whole process was quite complicated. There were numerous phone calls, to Oahu and all the way to Washington DC, to try to arrange for a flight to take the whale to Oahu for the necropsy. This took hours to resolve. In the meantime, we packed the whale in ice bags. We finally found out that a plane would not be available, so the necropsy team would have to fly to Kauai. So then we had to wait for them to come from Oahu and the first flight they were able to get on was at 5 pm. One of our volunteers then called numerous contacts to find a location where we could conduct the necropsy, and ultimately bury the remains. Finally the founder of E-Trade allowed us on his property (500 acres mauka of the highway), near Kileaua. The necropsy team had to stop at our hospital here to gather some specific supplies, and didn’t get to our remote location until just before 9 pm. Fortunately we had procured a generator and lights, as well as having a backhoe dig a 10′ deep burial trench. After a briefing, the necropsy started about 9 pm. Charlie and I were assisting by recording the vets’ comments, labeling zip lock bags for samples), handing instruments to the vets, and whatever else was needed. It is a very involved process, especially on a large animal. We were required to each wear rubber boots, a large rubber apron and gloves and the people doing the actual necropsy wore coveralls. (I’ve decided not to include any pictures from the necropsy, in case any of you are squeamish).
The whale on the trailer, prior to being wrapped in ice and transported to a farm up in the mountains, where the necropsy took place.

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After 17 hours, we left and went home about midnight while our vet Mimi, and the head of our Kauai group, Jamie, and the Oahu crew worked until 7 am (making it a 24 day ordeal for the Kauai staff). The whole process was meticulously handled because the whales are protected and they wanted to be sure that the cause of death was determined. Things were very politically sensitive, because military exercises (RIMPAC) have been taking place around the island and many people have been concerned about the effect on marine mammals. The procedure had to be completely accurate and neutral so that any results would be correct. We don’t expect to hear any results of the necropsy findings for days.

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