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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, June 15, 2002

Removal of carcass a whale of a task

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

State and city officials are used to removing things that wash up on island beaches, but two tons of smelly, decomposing whale carcass was a challenge yesterday.

The dead sperm whale — what's left of it, anyway — floated in on Thursday night's high tide, coming to rest at Kualoa on a sliver of beach within sniffing distance of Kamehameha Highway, just north of the ruins of the sugar mill smoke stack at Kualoa Ranch.

Normally, the city takes care of removing things that wash ashore but this was too much.

"This thing is big," Jeff Walters of the Department of Land and Natural Resources' division of aquatic resources, said yesterday morning as the state weighed its options. "We need something big. We either have to have a crane to lift it up whole or something to cut it up into smaller pieces."

At one point, he thought a backhoe could be used to chop it up, but anyone getting close to the carcass would have to wear protective clothing.

"It is putrid," he said.

So yesterday afternoon they hired a crane from Bob's Equipment.

By 4 p.m. the biggest chunk had been removed and taken across the highway to Kualoa Ranch. DLNR spokesman Mike Markrich said four large chunks still remaining on on the beach will be taken away today by backhoe.

The dead whale was first spotted Wednesday on a reef about 100 yards offshore, and signs were posted warning beachgoers to stay out of the water because of the possibility of sharks.

The signs remained up today, but Walters said the carcass is so decomposed that even sharks probably don't want it.