10/24/13 – DLNR, NOAA Request Assistance From Boaters To Report Dead Floating WhalesPosted on Oct 24, 2013 in Aquatic Resources, News Releases, Whale
DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES
WILLIAM J. AILA JR,
For Immediate News Release October 24, 2013
DLNR, NOAA REQUEST ASSISTANCE FROM BOATERS
TO REPORT DEAD FLOATING WHALES
Notify USCG channel 16 or NOAA
marine mammal hotline at: 1-888-256-9840
HONOLULU – Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and NOAA are monitoring the drift direction of a 30-40 foot sperm whale carcass reported to DLNR last night by fishermen. It’s believed to now be about 4-5 miles off the windward Oahu coast. DLNR is preparing contingency plans in the event the carcass can be handled while at sea or if it should reach land. DLNR requests the public’s help to notify the department of timely sightings of the carcass by calling the numbers above.
Each year, approximately one to four sperm whale carcasses drift ashore in Hawaii, particularly in May and August. The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) are asking boaters to notify authorities immediately if they see a dead whale floating at sea.
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.
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For more information, news media may contact:
DLNR Public Information Specialist
Phone: (808) 587-0320
David Schofield, NOAA
Regional Marine Mammal Health and Response Program Manager
Cell: (808) 944-2269