Huge decomposing whale carcass towed farther offshore

HALEIWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The carcass of a 55,000-pound humpback whale was towed about 8 miles off shore Tuesday.

A private dive operator had hoped to tow the carcass 10 miles offshore, but were forced to stop short because of deteriorating conditions.

The 40-foot carcass was spotted off Oahu's North Shore on Christmas Day, and was attracting sharks through the afternoon.

Lifeguards first noticed it about a mile offshore of Haleiwa Alii Beach Park at a surf spot known as "Avalanche."

They said at least three tiger sharks were seen feasting on it.

The sight, and smell, also attracted onlookers at the harbor.

"It smelled so bad. I almost got up and left because it smelt so bad. It was almost unbearable," Haley Ellis said.

For safety reasons, community members towed the carcass about three miles offshore Monday.

"It was heading toward Alii Beach, which is a high impact beach, a lot of recreational swimming, a lot of recreational boating," said David Schofield, NOAA's Marine Mammal Response Program coordinator. "There were reports of different times of sharks on the whale carcass. So the fact that the community was able to step and remove this public out of harm's way and further out to sea, is a real bonus."

The concern, though, was that the carcass would move back to shore. So a team monitored it, and the private operator was brought in to tow it out farther.

This isn't the first time a whale carcass made its way to shore.

In March 2013, a 15-foot humpback calf washed up on shore behind Waianae High School.

Last November, the state hired a salvage boat to tow away a 60-foot long humpback whale carcass off Kailua Bay.

Later in the month, another carcass washed up at Yokohama Beach and a dead whale was found off Maui in January of this year.

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