DLNR warns folks to stay out of the water

Video by David Corrigan, Voice of Stephanie Salazar

HAWAIIAN BEACHES, Hawaii: The shoreline cliffs of Hawaiian Beaches subdivision were crowded on Thursday, as onlookers clambered over the rocks to get a closer look at the huge, dead whale in the shallows.

JJ Medeiros has been holding this spot with his fishing pole for the better part of the day. He had an overhead view of this decomposing 50-foot long sperm whale carcass… luckily, he and his friend were upwind of the massive creature.

An area resident first reported the carcass in the morning on Wednesday, August 22. A Hawaii County Fire Department Helicopter confirmed the presence of the carcass by about mid-morning, and it was up against the shore by the afternoon.

But the most incredible view today: the feeding frenzy that took place, as sharks were attracted to the feast floating in the waves.

Indeed, the sharks were the real draw in Puna on Thursday. Jim Brown, a Hawaiian Beaches resident, says he saw multiple tiger sharks chewing on the dead whale earlier in the day.

Sharks feed on dead sperm whale, courtesy Honua Consulting and DLNR

This video, courtesy of Honua Consulting, made the rounds on the internet Thursday.

The scene even prompted a warning from the Department of Land and Natural Resources, urging the public to keep out of the nearshore and ocean waters due to the presence of the tiger sharks.

DLNR’s aquatic resources and enforcement divisions posted shark warning signs and directed the public to stay out of the water within one mile on either side of the carcass.

The state office of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary at DLNR, in partnership with NOAA’s Fisheries Service, is working with a private marine salvage company to remove the carcass. The public is advised to remain out of these waters until three days after the carcass is removed. DLNR will issue updates as they become available.

The DLNR says sperm whales are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act. It is against the law to take or tamper with the carcass.