© Terry Lilley
Dead whale washes up to shore on Kauai.
Video posted on YouTube shows a 16-foot adult short-finned pilot whale lying sideways in shallow water at Hanalei Bay. Marine biologist Terry Lilley was one of the first to come upon the animal Friday morning. He said the whale was barely breathing.

"It didn't look like it was something where we would have had the ability to get it back out into the sea in time," Lilley told Hawaii News Now by telephone.

He said there were two small punctures in the whale's body, each about an inch across, but no other outward signs of injury.

"This whale was very fat, very healthy looking," he said. "It did not seem to have any disease or markings or anything that would indicate it had any trauma. So having a super healthy whale wash up like this is highly unique," Lilley said.

Some marine mammal experts and anti-RIMPAC advocates said sonar used in naval maneuvers like the Rim of the Pacific Maritime exercise can interfere with a whale's inner guidance system. Lilley suspects that's what happened to the pilot whale.

"The sonar affects the inner ear of the whale and therefore it loses its ability navigate. Whales navigate by using sonar themselves," he said.

But in a statement, the Navy said it's not to blame.

"There is no indication that the loss of the animal was caused by Navy activities. It would be premature and irresponsible to speculate otherwise," said Navy spokesman Lt. Cdr. Nick Sherrouse.

"This one whale washed up to shore. For every one that washes up to shore there's probably dozens that are dead that's floating around in the middle of the ocean that nobody sees. So we have no clue on how many whales and seals and dolphins the Navy is killing right now with these war games because we can't go out there and look," Lilley said.

NOAA's Marine Mammal division sent a team of veterinarians and support staff to Kauai to perform a necropsy on the pilot whale. Specimens will be sent to mainland laboratories.