10/25/2013 08:07 pm ET Updated Jul 30, 2014

Giant, Floating Whale Carcass Could Attract Sharks Close To Hawaii Shore

The 30-40 foot sperm whale carcass currently floating off Oahu's windward shore "kind of looked like Swiss cheese," according to Brad Peebles of Badbury Photography.

The decomposing whale has already attracted its fair share of hungry fish and sharks. "It had a bunch of holes in it," Peebles told Hawaii News Now. "The stomach had been eaten out, you can see some ribs poking out. It was a pretty interesting scene."

While captivating, the scene has Hawaii officials panicked. The carcass is only 5 miles from a popular recreational site, Kaneohe Bay, and it's moving quickly. Officials' fear is two-fold: that the carcass will continue to lure hungry sharks closer to shore, and that the carcass itself will eventually reach shore, requiring heavy equipment and strong stomachs to haul it away.

For now, scientists and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources are waiting to see where the carcass ends up. About four sperm whale carcasses drift towards shore every year in Hawaii, but it's nearly impossible to tell how they died.