Each year, approximately one to four sperm whale carcasses drift ashore in Hawaii, particularly in May and August, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
DLNR 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. Data also suggests sperm whales 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. This is often much easier and less expensive than removing it once it comes aground on a shoreline or reef,” said David Schofield, NOAA’s Regional Marine Mammal Health and Response Program manager. “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. It could have something to do with migration patterns, but scientists still have a lot to learn.”
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.