Alert state, federal officials when finding dead whale at sea

Early reporting allows officials to tow carcass away from shorelines

 UPDATED 9:18 AM HST Jun 24, 2013
HONOLULU -

The Department of Land and Natural Resources and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service are asking boaters to notify authorities immediately if they see a dead whale floating at sea.

Each year, approximately one to four sperm whale carcasses drift ashore in Hawaii, particularly in May and August, according to experts.

Data also suggests they are coming in to Hawaiian waters from east and north directions, which results in most carcasses landing on the windward side of islands.

"Early reporting allows us to locate, then tow a floating carcass away from the islands," said David Schofield, NOAA's Regional Marine Mammal Health and Response Program manager. "This is often much easier and less expensive than removing it once it comes aground on a shoreline or reef."

"It is critical that we do our best to keep these whales out at sea to avoid attracting large tiger sharks close to shore," said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson.

"Fishing is also good around these carcasses, and by notifying DLNR and NOAA early we can take the necessary steps to tow the carcass back out to sea, which can extend these opportunities and benefit public safety," added Aila.

"We know that sperm whales are the deepest diving and one of the largest ranging of all cetaceans, but we still don’t know why we see these stranding peaks in the summer," said Schofield. "It could have something to do with migration patterns, but scientists still have a lot to learn."

"Although summer is peak season for sperm whale carcasses, other large whale carcasses, like humpbacks, make their way to shore throughout the year," added Aila.

To report a floating whale or any marine mammal incident, call USCG channel 16 or the NOAA marine mammal hotline at: 1-888-256-9840.

PHOTOS: Dead humpback whale calf at Kahuku Point
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Ocean Safety

Federal marine officials responded to the scene on Oahu's North Shore where a dead humpback whale calf was found Tuesday morning.

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Click here to see photos of a dead humpback whale that washed up at the shores of Kahuku Point in April.

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