Sperm whale carcass washes up on Kauai beach

Jan. 29—A sperm whale carcass washed up on the shoreline at Lydgate Beach on Kauai Saturday morning and the park remains closed until further notice, according to federal, state and county officials.

The dead marine mammal was first reported on the reef Friday evening and high tide brought it ashore today, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. NOAA Fisheries, DLNR and Kauai County responded to the incident.

Native Hawaiian practitioners are conducting cultural protocols as heavy equipment is attempting to move the 56-foot-long, 60-ton carcass onto the beach, DLNR said. Spectators are being kept back and are asked not to cross the yellow tape during the continuing operation.

Shark warning signs have been posted on the beach.

A team from the University of Hawaii Health and Stranding Lab will be conducting an on-site examination of the carcass once it can be moved from the water onto the beach in an effort to determine the cause of death. Planning is underway for the final disposal of the remains.

Sperm whales, or palaoa in Hawaiian, are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The largest of the toothed whales, they are found in all deep oceans, from the equator to the edge of the pack ice in the Arctic and Antarctic, according to NOAA Fisheries' webpage on the species.