Another whale carcass has landed near the shores of Oahu — this time on the windward side.
State officials say the carcass of a “very large” whale of unknown species washed onto a reef in Kaneohe Bay Tuesday morning, about a mile offshore of Waikane.
Mammal stranding response teams from the University of Hawaii and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration were unable to get close to the reef Tuesday due to shallow water conditions. State Department of Land and Natural Resources officials are asking people to stay clear of the carcass.
Last month a sperm whale carcass was spotted near Kewalo Basin. Officials towed the carcass out to sea from Oahu’s South shore a few times, only to have currents wash it back ashore. They decided last week to let it remain where it is in an isolated area near Campbell Industrial Park and let nature take its course. The sperm whale carcass drew much attention and publicity, including a video of a man standing atop it, reports of divers removing its teeth, and social media posts of divers swimming with a great white shark attracted to the carcass.
“Despite recent photos of people swimming with sharks when a sperm whale carcass appeared on Oahu’s south shore last month, we strongly encourage people to stay clear of this carcass,” Jason Redulla, Conservation and Resources Enforcement chief said today in the DLNR a news release. “Disturbing a carcass or collecting anything from it, is against the law.
Harbor agents at the Heeia Kea Small Boat Harbor have also advised all commercial tour boat operators not to venture close to the carcass, due to the expected presence of sharks.
State and federal officials are assessing their options for removing the carcass, which they expect to be challenging due to its heavy weight, overall size, advanced state of decomposition, and position on the reef. Officials said they are working with Native Hawaiian practitioners to ensure that cultural protocols and the respectful handling of the remains are observed.