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State briefs for April 15

Tiger sharks eat whale carcass that drifted ashore

HONOLULU — Officials are warning people to stay out of the water after sharks were seen eating the carcass of a whale that has washed ashore on an Oahu beach.

Several tiger sharks were seen eating the whale remains as it drifted closer to shore in Waimanalo. The carcass landed on the beach later in the day, but warning signs remained Wednesday.

Honolulu Ocean Safety Division Lt. David Loui took a jet ski out to the carcass as sharks ate chunks of the whale.

“One of the sharks, probably about 12 feet, was actively coming to the jet ski craft and almost making lunges toward it, and basically trying to scare us off,” Loui said.

People came to the beach to see the rare sight.

“We’ve just been hanging out, kind of watching it, looking at what it looks like, looking at the tiger bites on it,” said Sammy Falgiani of Honolulu.

Only about 20 dead whales and dolphins wash ashore on U.S. soil around the Pacific each year, said Nicholas Hofmann, training coordinator of the Health and Stranding LAB at the University of Hawaii.

Hofmann’s team helped recover the whale’s baleen, which is used to collect shrimp-like krill, plankton and small fish.

“We are here to better understand why this animal died,” said Hofmann, “… and then collecting samples for research in the future.”

Native Hawaiians have cultural protocols for when dead whales wash ashore.

“Public safety is always paramount, but by tomorrow, we’ll have to take care of this present, this makana, whale,” said Kalani Kalima, of Na Kuaaina o Waimanalo. “And we’ll take it up on land and bury it.”

Until the whale is entirely removed from the shoreline, there is an increased chance of shark activity in the area, officials said.

Sailor who shot himself was from New York

HONOLULU — The U.S. Navy sailor who shot and killed himself at a Hawaii resort was assigned to the Naval Submarine Support Center in Pearl Harbor.

Lt. Cmdr. Russell Cruz, 40, of New York died from a self-inflected gunshot wound in a room at the Kahala Hotel &Resort after a standoff with Honolulu police during the weekend.

The Navy released details about his identity Wednesday. The Honolulu Medical Examiner’s office released his name Monday.

The center he was assigned to provides operational support for Pearl Harbor homeported submarines, their crews, families and staff of Submarine Squadrons One and Seven.

Cruz was a Navy supply officer and a submarine warfare qualified officer, Fields said.

According to his bio, he enlisted in 2001.

Man gets probation for biting another man’s ear

WAILUKU, Maui — A Maui man won’t serve additional jail time for biting another’s man ear.

Bruce Ortiz of Wailuku was given credit for the nine days he spent in jail and was sentenced to four years probation.

Ortiz, 35, said the other man picked up a hammer first. He and Ortiz gave different accounts of what happened, said his attorney Matthew Padgett.

Ortiz said he was defending himself against a hammer-wielding man.

He was ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs and to stay away from people using illegal drugs. He also was ordered to complete anger management treatment.

Ortiz had pleaded no contest to a reduce charge of second-degree unauthorized entry into a dwelling and second-degree assault.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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