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The Exploding Whale Turns 50

And now in a new glorious digitally enhanced version:

Today in 1970, authorities in Oregon detonated a beached whale, unwittingly creating one of the biggest viral videos of all time

On November 9, 1970, a 45-foot sperm whale washed ashore in Florence, OR. As the creature decomposed on the beach, a distinct smell wafted into town. The locals grew anxious, and a bit nauseous. Finally, the highway patrol arrived. For a few days, they pondered their options. Bury it? Cut it up? Burn it? No solution seemed quite right, but the stench was worsening, so they settled on a decisive course of action: Blow it up!

And so 50 years ago today, a half-ton of dynamite was detonated under an 8-ton beached whale. As it turns out, that was overkill. Mammalian marine guts spewed everywhere, raining down on townsfolk. A quarter-mile away, cars were smashed with chunks of cetacean carcass.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • James ONeil November 13, 2020, 6:21 PM

    Good times!

    OK, the folks in Florence at the time probably wouldn’t agree.

    OK, OK, it all depends on where you’re standing, the time a buddy tried to clear a plugged toilet by tossing in an M80, closing the lid & sitting on it… me & two buddies that tried to ‘plain to him it was a bad idea laughed uproariously.

  • Auntie Analogue November 13, 2020, 6:28 PM

    Instant chum!

  • Snowgoose November 13, 2020, 6:36 PM

    I have, in my files, a copy of a US Forest Service internal bulletin from about the mid-70s describing with graphics how to blow up a dead horse in the backcountry. Probably a vexing problem for the backcountry rangers, but the description is hilarious.

  • PA Cat November 13, 2020, 9:02 PM

    Here is a video about the general problem of dead whale disposal; it ends with the 1970 Oregon attempt at disposal by dynamite but includes some recent cases of spontaneous explosions of decomposing whales in Denmark and Taiwan.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6SO4vmrqRQ&ab_channel=RealLifeLore

  • Snakepit Kansas November 14, 2020, 5:14 AM

    That was really cool. Blow up a dead whale with a bunch of dynamite. A quarter mile away rotten chunks fall from the sky to destroy a Cadillac. Murica!

  • Rob De Witt November 14, 2020, 6:03 AM

    I remember greatly enjoying that – from a significant distance, of course. But nothing, ever, will be as funny as this one:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BejQuI3lH9M&feature=emb_logo

  • Novadog November 14, 2020, 6:28 AM

    James
    How much alcohol was involved with that plan?

  • Casey Klahn November 14, 2020, 6:13 PM

    We lived on the Washington coast, and I was 12 or something and I recall my dad getting a huge chuckle out of watching this on TV. Dad was an explosives expert and he blew shit up; he explained to me the amount of resistance or mass of a sperm whale and how the size of explosives to blast it one way would be incalculably larger than what they had or what they used. An actual explosives man would place the charge on the ocean side. FFS.

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