Waimānalo – At least three large Tiger sharks have been spotted feeding on the decomposing carcass of a Hawaiian Humpback whale, just off-shore from Waimānalo Bay Beach Park. Shark warning signs are up, and lifeguards and law enforcement officials have been warning people to stay out of the water.
The whale carcass was spotted by Honolulu Ocean Safety Division lifeguards at around 9 this morning; originally an estimated 300-yards from the beach. Lifeguards on a jet ski went out to investigate and have seen at least three sharks in the 12-13-foot-long range feeding on the carcass. Throughout the day the carcass seems to be drifting closer to the beach, at one point an estimated 100-150 yards from shore.
In addition to warning signs lifeguards and officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) are stationed on the beach or patrolling it to ensure people do not enter the water.
Tissue from the carcass began washing onto the beach yesterday afternoon. There are reports that dogs are eating some of the tissue and owners are asked to keep their dogs on leashes and away from the material, so they don’t get sick. It is against both federal and state laws to remove any body parts or bones from protected marine species, like Humpback whales.
The City and County of Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation will be closing Waimanalo Bay Beach Park an hour and a half earlier today, beginning at 7 p.m., to limit nighttime access to this beach. This includes closing the access gate earlier. The beach park is normally closed from 8:30 p.m. through 7 a.m., nightly.
DLNR and NOAA are in the process of determining what to do about the carcass. Options include, towing it out to sea or letting currents bring it to shore. Native Hawaiian practitioners will be engaged in either case, to provide cultural protocols.