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Melon-headed whale carcass found off Kailua Beach

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 3:56 p.m. HST, Aug 1, 2014

Honolulu lifeguards and state officials towed a melon-headed whale carcass to shore after it was spotted near "Flat Island" off Kailua Beach Friday morning.

The sighting of the dolphin carcass was reported at about 10:15 a.m., a spokeswoman for the Ocean Safety Division said. 

The dolphin appeared to be an 8-foot long adult or sub-adult melon-headed whale, weighing between 500 to 700 pound, state officials said. Melon-headed whales are small dolphins.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said Thursday two marine mammals were swimming in circles between Flat Island and the shore. It warned people to stay out of the waters because they could attract sharks. 

The warning was issued Thursday after what officials thought were two adult false killer whales, another dolphin species, were seen swimming in circles between Flat Island and the shore in waters off Kailua beach and Lanikai beach, as if in distress. It's not clear what happened to the second dolphin if there actually was more than one in the area.

DLNR officials lifted the hazard warning for Kailua Bay waters after the removal of the carcass Friday. 

Lifeguards had not seen any sharks in the area, city Ocean Safety Division spokeswoman Shayne Enright said Friday morning. They are notifying beachgoers about the whale carcass and if any sharks are seen, signs will be posted.

The dolphin carcass was taken to Hawaii Pacific University, where its death will be investigated.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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