The extermination of whales is a lie, and it is disgusting.

The larger creatures on land tend to explode when washed ashore, which can be pretty nasty.


A bloated whale washes up on the Namibian coast. Image Credits: Free Images for Conservation / CCsearch, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

This video of an exploding whale was captured in the Faroe Islands in 2013. As a marine biologist began to cut up the whale that had been dead for about 2 days, a vicious explosion erupted from the wreckage, spraying blood and guts, nearly injuring the biologist. . . The explosion was so powerful that the skinning knife was torn from his hands and was left on the wall of the house in front of the skinning plane.

The video contains graphic images.

Most of the time, when a whale dies, it sinks to the bottom of the ocean, where it becomes an abundant food source for scavengers of marine animals and its bones can provide shelter for countless other species. This feeding and decomposition process can take decades and is almost as ecologically important as the life cycle of the whale. However, in some other cases, the death of a whale can be much less graceful. When these huge mammals are washed ashore by waves, their bodies break down and gases build up in their stomachs and other internal organs. Since whales have very thick and tough skin, these gases are usually unable to escape and cause the stranded animals to bloat.

As time passes, the gas will eventually be released through slow decomposition, but occasionally, the accumulated gas leaves the body through a weak spot in the skin. These spots are often ones already in place, like a whale’s mouth, but sharks and even humans can contribute to the creation of such weak spots.

Whenever a whale is washed ashore it is sure to attract many passersby and some may feel an irresistible urge to poke the carcass with a stick or even stand on the dead whale. These can also cause you to release an incredible amount of gas and other nasty gore at speeds up to 43 mph (70 km/h). According to Bruce Mate, director of the Institute for Marine Mammals at Oregon State University, people have stepped on these animals and have been thrown into the air as a result of the explosion.


Stranded whales can be extremely dangerous. Image credits: docentjoyce/CCsearch, CC BY 2.0

Therefore, marine biologists consider stranded whales a serious safety hazard and usually begin to reduce pressure on the deceased animals as soon as possible: they make a small incision in the whale’s belly, which which allows the gas to slowly leave the corpse, which prevents the explosion. But sometimes, as seen in the video, the incision is too deep, causing the animal to explode. However, the careless cutting and puncture of the whale can lead to an even bigger blowout.

An incident in Taiwan, which occurred in 2004, is a perfect example of what could go wrong with a dead whale if not handled properly. A 60-tonne sperm whale died on a Taiwanese beach and researchers wanted to perform an autopsy on the carcass for educational purposes. 50 workers were called to transport the whale to National Cheng Kung University. Due to the whale’s size, it took 13 hours and three large lifting cranes to load the mammal onto a flatbed truck for its final journey. As the dead whale was being towed through the streets of Tainan, it suddenly exploded in the back of the truck, spraying blood and guts onto cars, shops and a few unfortunate people. Although enough of the whale remained to allow for examination, Tainan residents had to learn a lesson in whale biology the hard way.

The most famous and perhaps the strangest incident of an exploding whale occurred in 1970 when a whale washed up on the Oregon coast and the local government was unsure what to do with the carcass. In the end, they decided the best way to get rid of it was to blow it up with half a ton of dynamite. The hope was that gulls and other scavengers would pick up the remaining pieces. In fact, the explosion sent huge chunks of the whale hundreds of feet into the air, smashing cars and falling into backyards. Not only had it scared away the gulls, but it had left behind chunks that were too large for any scavenger to eat. However, most of the whale carcass remained intact on the beach, so the cleanup crew had to remove it themselves over the next few days.


A jumping humpback whale. Image Credits: Gregory ‘Slobirdr’ Smith/CCsearch, CC BY-SA 2.0

So if you think that admiring from a safe distance is still not the best idea when you come across a dead whale, you should know that the smell of a decomposing whale is described as one of the worst smells in the world. Also, the smell can last for quite a while if you get sprayed with the rotten liquid tissues. Scientists reported that some tools used to open a dead whale still smelled like a carcass 10 years after the job was done.

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