February 20, 2024

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56-foot endangered whale found dead on Hawaii beach

56-foot endangered whale found dead on Hawaii beach

A 56-foot-long sperm whale washed up dead on a Hawaii beach over the weekend, marking a loss for an endangered species that was nearly wiped out before commercial whaling was put to an end in 1986. 

The carcass, which is an estimated 122,000 pounds, was first spotted on Friday floating on the reef off Lydgate Beach on Kauai’s east shore. High tide ushered it onto the beach on Saturday, according to the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. The beach was closed through Monday, 

Native Hawaiian practitioners viewed the day’s activities and conducted cultural protocols throughout the day for the dead sperm whale at Lydgate Park on Kauaʻi HI on Jan. 28, 2023

Native Hawaiian practitioners viewed the day’s activities and conducted cultural protocols throughout the day for the dead sperm whale at Lydgate Park on Kauaʻi HI on Jan. 28, 2023

Courtesy of Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Resources

Researchers from the University of Hawaii Health and Stranding Lab are examining the animal to determine the cause of death, and it will take months before lab tests are complete and results are finalized. Jamie Thomton, the Kauai Stranding Coordinator with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries division, said that the whale likely died only days before washing ashore. 

“There are many possible causes including disease, injuries from a vessel strike, entanglement with discarded fishing line, or ingestion of plastic marine debris,” Dr. Kristi West, who leads the lab, said in a DLNR news release. 

Over the weekend, multiple local agencies used large machinery to lift the whale from the wet sand to a dry area so researchers could conduct a necropsy, a postmortem examination that includes taking samples and measurements. Historians then identified an area where the whale remains can be buried without disturbing ancestral bones, the DLNR said.

Native Hawaiian practitioners viewed the day’s activities and conducted cultural protocols throughout the day for the dead sperm whale at Lydgate Park on Kauaʻi HI on Jan. 28, 2023

Native Hawaiian practitioners viewed the day’s activities and conducted cultural protocols throughout the day for the dead sperm whale at Lydgate Park on Kauaʻi HI on Jan. 28, 2023


Courtesy of Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Resources

A dead 56-foot-long, 120,000-pound sperm whale washed up on the beach at Lydgate Park on Kauaʻi HI on Jan. 28, 2023

A dead 56-foot-long, 120,000-pound sperm whale washed up on the beach at Lydgate Park on Kauaʻi HI on Jan. 28, 2023


Courtesy of Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Resources

A dead 56-foot-long, 120,000-pound sperm whale washed up on the beach at Lydgate Park on Kauaʻi HI on Jan. 28, 2023

A dead 56-foot-long, 120,000-pound sperm whale washed up on the beach at Lydgate Park on Kauaʻi HI on Jan. 28, 2023


Courtesy of Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Resources

Excavators gets ready to remove the dead 56-foot-long, 120,000-pound sperm whale from the beach at Lydgate Park on Kauaʻi HI on Jan. 28, 20023

Excavators gets ready to remove the dead 56-foot-long, 120,000-pound sperm whale from the beach at Lydgate Park on Kauaʻi HI on Jan. 28, 20023


Courtesy of Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Resources


(Courtesy Of Hawaiʻi Department Of Land And Resources)

Known for their large heads and mouths full of teeth, Sperm whales inhabit the deep waters of all the world’s oceans. Their populations plummeted from the 1800s to 1987 as the whaling industry hunted the species for oil that was used in oil lamps, candles and lubricants, according to NOAA. The agency said the species is still recovering.