Whale carcass reaches its resting place

Jeff Walters
Jeff Walters

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

KAHUKU (KHNL) - After trying to dispose of the ten-ton whale carcass, crews have finally put the mammal to rest.

For about two weeks, it's been a whale of a tale for Kahuku residents.

Concerns over safety and the swiftness of the carcass removal sparked heated debate with the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Thursday, both sides finally bury the issue.

It's moving day for this monstrous ten-ton sperm whale.

Beached for about two weeks, it takes about four hours for a crane to drag it from the shoreline to this spot. The Department of Land and Natural Resources says it's one of the most difficult situations it's handled over the last decade.

"The access, where it was sitting and the size," said Jeff Walters with the State Whale Program.

The whale's insides ooze everywhere. A crane picks up the dead body, it breaks in half. It's put it into a container to be carried away. The smell is intense.

"It's a bit overpowering at times but you get used to it, it grows on you," said Alex Pawlowski, a clean up volunteer.

Salvaged from the dead whale are bones like its jawbone and this piece of its spine. While badly decomposed, HPU students will examine and analyze them the next few months, trying to figure out the whale's age, feeding habits and genetic DNA.

"This lets our students get hands on learning and be involved in these events and of course work closely with NOAA and DLNR," said professor Kristi West. "A large whale like this is rare."

Finally from the depths of the ocean to this 25-foot deep hole nearby, the whale reaches its final resting place.

Crews will make sure to completely cover the body, sealing in any smell.

It's now up to the Honolulu Fire Department to continue to scour the waters for sharks, on the hunt for remains of the whale.

Officials are asking people to stay out of the water within a mile of Kahuku point for at least a day.

That way the high tide will have a chance to come in and wash away any scent and any tissue still left in the water.