HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A sperm whale carcass in shallow waters off Oahu’s Sand Island was successfully removed Saturday.
Environmental officials worked to tow the large mass out to sea around 9 a.m. after it was first spotted Thursday.
The carcass was initially seen about a mile from shore with tiger sharks feeding on it. By Friday, it drifted to very shallow waters at Sand Island, bringing with it a strong stench of rotting flesh.
On Friday, officials described the status of the 40- to 50-foot sperm whale carcass as “hard aground,” a term used when a vessel’s keel is lodged firmly in the sea floor and cannot move. In addition, NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal Response coordinator David Schofield said the whale is missing its tail, which made removal efforts slightly challenging.
“It’s really tough, we are using a 40,000-pound tow line today," Ann Garrett, Assistant Director of Protective Resources at NOAA Fisheries said. “The animal decomposes and then gets eaten by sharks so it gets hard to wrap the tow line around the animal.”
Officials were able to get a strap around the whale’s jaw before attaching it to a rigging and towing it out to sea.
“I was expecting it to be much worse. Much worse, but the wind is going that way," visitor Ellie Vanacker said. "We stayed up wind (and) it wasn’t as sketchy as I thought it would be.”
Officials said the whale was brought 15 miles off shore by the afternoon.
This story may be updated.