Bones of a young humpback whale buried last autumn are dug up on Irino beach in Kuroshio, Kochi Prefecture, on Oct. 30. (Masatoshi Kasahara)

KUROSHIO, Kochi Prefecture--The remains of an estimated 10-ton whale that washed ashore here late last year will go on public display in Okinawa Prefecture, a famed whale breeding ground.

The 8.6-meter-long female humpback was found beached on Nov. 18. As the carcass was already in an advanced state of decay, it was cut up into pieces and buried on Irino beach.

The work was carried out by Shuji Yachimori, 52, a visiting researcher at the nonprofit group Shikoku Institute of Natural History in Susaki in the prefecture, and volunteers.

Many humpback whales breed and raise their calfs between November and March in waters off Okinawa, and then head to northern seas for food in April.

The young whale is thought to have washed ashore while returning to Okinawa with her mother. Whales can frequently be observed off Kuroshio.

The plan to send the humpback’s skeletal remains to her birthplace was proposed after Ayami Osako, 25, who works at the town's Kuroshio Sunabi Museum, visited Zamami, Okinawa Prefecture, in March this year for occupational training and mentioned the carcass to a local whale watching association member there.

Inspired by Osako’s story, the association member embarked on a project to have the remains returned to the whale's birthplace to “serve as a symbol of local revitalization efforts.”

It was decided to unearth the remains and present them to Zamami with the assistance of the Kuroshio town government.

On Oct. 30, about 40 high school students, college students and other volunteers gathered on Irino beach to dig up the remains. Thirty children from a nearby day-care center were on hand to observe the work.

Under the direction of Tadasu Yamada, an honorary researcher at the National Museum of Nature and Science, a specialist in whale ecology, the excavated skull, backbone, ribs and baleen were cleaned and arranged on a tarpaulin.

“The bones are well preserved,” Yamada noted.

Akira Oshiro, 66, chairman of the project, expressed delight that “better whale remains than expected” will be displayed.

He said a crowdfunding campaign will be staged to raise 15 million yen ($138,400) to set up a museum to display the skeletal remains next spring.