Humpback attacked by sharks off Mokule'ia
11th April 2003
By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer
Warning signs were put up along the shoreline near Camp Erdman in Mokule'ia after a young humpback whale was attacked by three large sharks yesterday.
The 10- to 15-foot calf was trapped inside the reef within 100 feet of the shoreline near the camp at about 2 p.m. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service and the Hawaiian Islands Stranding Response Group were activated to help the whale.
NOAA biologist Brad Ryon was the first on scene and he said the calf was in about 15 feet of water and was in distress, said NOAA spokeswoman Delores Clark. She said the whale had several lacerations, apparently caused by the sharp reef.
Before the rescue teams could get to the whale, however, three large sharks grabbed the calf and took it beneath the surface, Clark said. Blood and oil from the whale were released into the water and the whale was not seen again.
"It all happened really fast," Clark said. "(The rescue teams) were not there in time to do anything about it."
She said the sharks may have devoured the whale, or what's left of its carcass could wash ashore. But Clark said that can't be determined until daylight today.
"In the meantime they just want to keep people out of the water," she said. The area will be monitored for the next few days, Clark said.
The Hawaiian Islands Stranding Response Group is a non-profit agency that responds to marine mammal health emergencies. The group consists of biologists, veterinarians and volunteers.
The federal NOAA Fisheries is dedicated to protecting and preserving marine resources.