Wildlife officials this morning successfully removed the whale carcass floating at Sherwood’s at Waimanalo Bay Beach Park after it washed into the shore break overnight.
The Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation decided to close the park this morning for the removal, and will keep it closed for the rest of today due to the potential presence of sharks in the water.
Shark signs, which initially went up Tuesday, will stay up, and lifeguards will continue to warn beachgoers to stay out of the water.
Lifeguards first spotted the carcass, which is that of a humpback whale, about 300 yards from shore on Tuesday morning, prompting the shark warning signs. Lifeguards later that day inspecting the carcass observed at least three, large tiger sharks, feeding on it.
A Hawaiian blessing and prayer was held by Kalani Kalima of Waimanalo prior to the carcass removal this morning, with about 50 people in attendance.
“We understand that we, just like the whale, is part of this cycle of life,” said Kalima, “and that we embrace all of it. We are always respectful and understanding (of) our place, the whale’s importance in the ocean and everything else. There’s a balance. When we’re looking towards ourselves we want to be as pono as we can, and being pono is an ever fleeting goal.”
Multiple agencies from the county, state, and federal level assisted with the whale carcass removal, which required heavy equipment from the county and U.S. Air Force at Bellows, to move it from the shoreline into trucks.
Officials said the whale carcass was buried on private land.
Although crews were able to remove most of the carcass, some tissue remaining in the ocean may still wash up on the beach, and officials warn dog owners to keep their pets away from it to avoid getting sick.
Marine experts believe the whale was either an adult or young adult, and that it probably died within the past week. Researchers will study tissue samples to try and determine its cause of death, if possible.