Large sperm whale carcass that washed ashore at Sand Island is no longer there

Crews towed the the massive whale carcass out to sea Saturday.
Crews towed the the massive whale carcass out to sea Saturday.(David Schofield/NOAA (custom credit))
Updated: Jan. 13, 2019 at 9:24 AM HST
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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.

Tiger Sharks Feasting On Whale Carcass

#Breaking: Here's our first look at the tiger sharks tearing apart the sperm whale carcass off Honolulu. NOAA is still trying to determine if the carcass will float away from the island or need a tow to deeper waters. MORE:

Posted by Keahi Tucker on Thursday, January 10, 2019

This story may be updated.

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