The badly decomposed carcass of a humpback whale that nearly washed ashore at Haleiwa on Christmas Day, is in the process of being towed out to deep ocean waters this afternoon, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
A private dive company, One Ocean Diving, first towed the carcass — the first reported this season — away from Haleiwa on Sunday and today volunteered to go ahead and tow it further offshore. Yesterday the remains were towed three miles offshore by one of the company’s boats and this afternoon, based on drift pattern modeling provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, it was towed an additional 10 miles offshore, due north of Haleiwa.
“Based on the level of decomposition I think this whale died about two weeks ago,” said David Schofield, NOAA’s Marine Mammal Response Coordinator in a press release. “It was a small adult humpback and again, due to the condition of the carcass, it will be impossible to determine how it died.”
Schofield discussed the tow operation with principals of One Ocean Diving. In many whale carcass situations, the federal and state government have to tow them or hire a private company to do the work. Due to the special circumstances involved, NOAA and DLNR gave One Ocean permission to complete the offshore tow.
Last winter, six humpback whale carcasses washed ashore or into near-shore waters.
“We deeply appreciate the efforts of the crew from One Ocean Diving who conducted the initial tow yesterday and the final tow today, at no cost to the state, the federal government or taxpayers,” said DLNR chair Suzanne Case in the release.