NOAA officials are warning people to stay out of the water at Kailua Beach.
Officials say it's because there's a melon-headed whale in distress out by Flat Island. They believe the approximately nine-foot long, 1,000 pound whale could die by Friday morning and attract sharks.
It's what some say was a sad scene at Kailua Beach.
The whale was found swimming in circles for hours and that's all it could do. No one could help.
Officials from NOAA were on hand to monitor the situation after early reports said there were two false killer whales in the area.
“The whale has been swimming on its side, so you see the pectoral flipper and also the tail flute. So people may have mistaken that as two dorsal fins for two whales, but we’ve confirmed it’s only one whale,” said T. David Schofield Jr. of NOAA Marine Mammal Health Division.
The whale’s actions were intriguing to ocean goers, including paddlers who got right up next to it.
“He looked confused,” said Kailua resident Nani Ornellas.
“He was lying on his side and it kind of looked like he was in trouble. He was kind of like life is in the wake,” said Gayenell Kalama, a Kailua resident.
At one point it wasn’t the ocean goers who were approaching the whale.
“He must’ve sensed that we were near because he started swimming towards us and then he came right toward us and he bumped into our canoe,” said Ornellas.
The mammal stayed about 200 yards from the shoreline where a vet from NOAA checked it out, but didn't find any visible injuries.
Officials watched the melon-headed whale until sundown with plans to check on it Friday morning.
“The whale may strand on the beach. It could pass away during the night and drift out to sea. There is a warning that’s been put out by the state to avoid swimming in the area,” said Schofield.
This isn't the first time melon-headed whales have stranded in the area.
“In the last couple of years we’ve had two other melon-headed whales strand in the bay closer down towards the Marine Corps base,” said Schofield.
NOAA says it's still waiting on results to determine why those melon-headed whales washed in closer to shore.
The crew from NOAA doesn't know why the whale is distressed. They do tell us that stranding isn't uncommon in Hawaii though.
Officials say if you come across a stranded whale or dolphin to call the NOAA Marine Mammal Hotline at (888) 256-9840.