PILA‘A BEACH — The deceased sperm whale caught on a North Shore reef is rapidly decomposing, one week after state and federal agencies reported its appearance.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration believe the adult animal died at sea four to five days before it washed ashore.
DLNR, NOAA and stranding-response partners have decided to allow natural decomposition, which has been assisted by heavy surf conditions, to continue in place, a spokesperson told The Garden Island, noting plans may adjust “if necessary.”
In the meantime, nearby Kahili Beach, also known as Rock Quarries, remains closed due to shark sightings.
DLNR and NOAA had advised beachgoers that tiger sharks would likely be drawn to the area to feed on the whale, in a joint statement released last week.
The agencies also advised pet owners to keep dogs away from any whale tissue that may wash ashore, to avoid consumption and potential subsequent illness.
The DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers are patrolling the Pila‘a Beach area to ensure the carcass remains undisturbed.
“It is illegal to possess marine-mammals parts, including whale bones and teeth, as they are protected under state and federal laws,” the NOAA spokesperson said.
To report a live or dead stranded marine mammal or sea turtle, contact the NOAA Marine Wildlife Hotline, 1-888-256-9840, or the DLNR DOCARE Hotline: 808-643-DLNR. Reports can also be submitted via RespectWildlife@noaa.gov or the DLNRTip App.
Scott Yunker, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.