The Story Of A Dead Whale

Ever heard of whales bursting? These are some nasty creatures to deal with. A dead whale can,that too washed on a shore can create some devastating scenarios. So, dive in! (  one of the worst puns ever!)

  • Cause of death

Now, no animal can be immortal, can they? So even whales die.Most of the reasons being dehydration, collapsing under their own massive weights, drowning, tides,washed up on the shore etc.   

Photo by Elianne Dipp on
  • The discovery

On the lands of Florence,Oregon, the people discover a dead sperm whale on the beach in Central Oregon Coast. The navy thus, decided to blast the dead whale using a dynamite as it was taking a lot of place.The person in-charge for the project was George Thornton who was an engineer. He described in an interview that he was not sure about the amount of dynamite they were going to need. Apparently, he was chosen for the particular project due to the supervisor who went hunting. Finally, a charge dynamite of approximately 450kg was selected to blast the whale. A veteran had previously warned about the vast amount was not necessarily needed, but his advice fell to deaf ears. The event of detonating the dynamite took place on Nov 12, precisely at 3:45pm. The whole event was recorded by Doug Brazil, for the famous show of Paul Linnman from a channel called KATU TV. Basically, what they thought was, by blasting the dead whale with a dynamite, the whale would disintegrate into smaller pieces and scavengers could feed on it. Seemed like a fair theory,didn’t it. But theoretical explanations are far more different compared to practical explanations, which are too unpredictable. What they didn’t think was that the whale could possibly…blast.

  • Explanation

So the thing is, when any living organism dies, it produces gases like methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2).This gas gradually keeps developing. So your question might be….but why is this related with the whales? What happens is, even whales develop these kinds of gases inside their body. Now a whale’s body is pretty big. A typical blue whale’s height would be around 3.96 to 4.88. So the place is pretty spacious. Now , what happens is, a whale’s body produces admittedly large amounts of these gases. Even if gases are comparatively more compressible than other states, so the pressure inside the whale is very high. Now, gases are something you should not play around with. Methane is extremely flammable. In fact- Ch4 is what we also call  ‘natural gas’ used as fuels. So yeah, if it is so flammable,  accordingly, it becomes very dangerous as well. The only thing which keeps it from exploding is the blubber,which is a layer inside the body of the whale. Also, the outer  skin prevents the gas from coming out. But one should keep in mind that the blubber and the skin would eventually give in. What actually happened in 1970 Florence case was, they did  nothing but trigger the explosion  of the whale. How? Suppose you got hurt for reason. So , what happens? Well, you bleed. Yes, but one more thing that also happens is that the skin becomes a little damaged. Same is with the skin of whales. It has some weak spots as well. Even poking it with your hand( that would be disgusting) would do nothing but trigger the pressure of gases, which will just cause the explosion tobe sooner. What the navy did was nothing but trigger the explosion. It causes a massive explosion. The weird thing was, the crew expected the whale to disintegrate but ironically, most of the parts stayed intact. What must have happened was , the part where the skin was damaged, must have released all the gases at once. And the fire just made it more lethal. The scavenger didn’t even come to feed on the dead body, predictably due to the sound of the explosion.The whole mess was left to be cleaned by the workers of Oregon National highway. 

Photo by Elianne Dipp on

When a whale dies, two things can happen,

  1.  The whale sinks into the bottom of the sea
  2.  Or, the body is washed up on the seashore due to tides.

From these two, the second situation is the most common. After the incident, the people prefered to just burn the whale the moment they resided on the seashore to avoid such circumstances.

Many such incidents had occurred similar to these, the Taiwan incident for example.

This is nothing but one of the fascinating things nature has. No one can particularly make the happenings lessen but can only be cautious. The situation though, is not much common. Because the average lifespan of a whale is 70 to 80 years. So, the circumstances are not that common but it’s there. So the next time you find a dead whale…….run!!!!

Categories: Science

Tagged as: