HONOLULU— Getting the rotting corpse of a dead sperm whale off Oahu’s North Shore was only the start of the problem.
Then residents had to deal with the smell of decomposing whale when big chunks of the 12-ton carcass fell off a truck carrying giant whale bones to Hawaii Pacific University.
“The smell just lingers,” said Richard Kurosu, who lives near a corner in Kaneohe where several whale parts littered the road for more than two hours.
The bulk of the blubbery mass was moved to a pit near Kahuku Point, where it was buried. But the university wanted the bones to teach students about the marine mammal.
The whale’s journey across the island caused traffic jams Thursday and annoyed residents. Workers needed a chain saw to cut some of the bones down to a size where volunteers could lift them back onto a truck.
The dead whale, an adult about 65 feet long, was first spotted June 29 off Kaneohe. It then washed up to a hard-to-access location on the North Shore, where sharks fed on the remains. The cause of its death had not been determined.
Kristi West, assistant professor at Hawaii Pacific, said the whale bones, including the seven-foot skull bone, would be great teaching tools.
“It’s such a spectacular animal,” West said.
Sperm whales are an endangered species, and their bones are generally not available.
Jeff Walters of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, said it cost between $10,000 and $15,000 to remove and bury the whale.
A giant grave was dug for the whale and a prayer ceremony was held as the remains were covered.