HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state has closed shoreline access at Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve on Maui following the discovery of a humpback whale carcass on shore.
It's the fifth whale carcass reported off the islands since November. At least of the carcasses have been confirmed as dead humpback whales.
The carcasses can attract sharks, and oceangoers are urged to use caution.
The state said since November, whale carcasses have been reported in Kailua Bay, West Oahu, West Molokai and off Kauai.
The public is reminded that humpback whales, dead or alive, are protected by both federal and state marine mammal laws.
Every year, thousands of humpback whales use Hawaiian waters as their principle "wintering ground," migrating here to mate, calve and nurse their young.
The population of North Pacific humpback whales is now estimated at 21,000, up from about 6,000 in the 1990s.
During the 2015-16 season, the total number of whales that made the journey seemed to be at its lowest level in five years.
Whale season in Hawaii is November to May, with a peak in February and March.