Whale carcass removed, so is the smell - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Whale carcass removed, so is the smell

Randy Cates Randy Cates
David Nichols David Nichols
Wayne Paakaula Wayne Paakaula

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email 

PUNALUU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Wednesday, crews managed to delicately remove the 10 ton whale carcass that been stinking up Punaluu the past six days, much to the delight of nearby residents.

Here's the task, get 10 tons of blubber and bones from a 35 foot humpback whale into the back of a 25 foot truck, ideally in one piece.

They started with an excavator rolling the carcass about 50 feet across the beach to the truck, but when they tried to pick it up they feared it would spew all over.

"We didn't want it to rip open, just dealing with and exposing... well you can imagine, not fun," said Randy Cates, Cates International Marine Salvage, who was contracted for the job.

Cates has removed 12 whale carcasses in Hawaii. Experience told him to bring in a front end loader to help and together the two tractors hoisted it up. Crews then backed the truck up underneath it so they could place the whale in with only a few pieces breaking off.

The whales scapula, or shoulder bone did fall off. There were shark bites indented into the bone. The experts say this likely happened well after the whale died when the sharks were scavenging and did not contribute to the whale's death.

In fact they'll never know how the animal died. It's been decomposing at least three weeks and the organs are mostly mush. They can't even tell if the rope scars they found on it played a part.

"Research has shown 30 percent of humpback whales here in Hawaii do actually have entanglement scars, so whether or not that contributed to this animals death is hard to say," said David Nichols, State Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Residents weren't concerned with how it died just that the stink was gone.

"They got everything out of here, that whole whale and the smell is gone with it," said Wayne Paakaula, who lives nearby.

"It's a happy ending to a stinky story," said Nichols.

And after a job like this there's really only one thing left to do.

"Lunchtime," laughed Cates.

But first they took the remains to Kualoa Ranch and buried it in a hole 25 feet deep. It was a private burial.

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