In late August 2010, a 12-tonne, 9.5-metre humpback whale became stranded 800m from shore in the Princess Harbor Albany, Australia. The terminally ill whale had barely moved since it became stranded two weeks prior, and managing director for the Whale Research Center in W.A. said that while it was unpleasant, for the sake of the animal, it needed to be euthanized.
Because of the whale’s massive size, putting it out of its misery with firearms was not an option, so wildlife officers positioned several explosives around the whale, which they then detonated.
An increasing number of whales are becoming stranded along the Western Australian coast, believed to be due to population growth. For other reasons why whales become stranded, read Why do Whales Beach Themselves.
Whale Euthanized in Jurien Bay, Australia
This is not the first time explosives have been used to euthanize a beached whale. In 2008, a 10-metre, 15-tonne juvenile humpback whale became stranded in the shallow waters of Jurien Bay, Western Australia. When the animal’s condition worsened, environmental officers detonated explosives near its brain to euthanize it.
Disposing of Whale Carcasses by Blowing Them Up
The Oregon Department of Transportation used explosives to try and dispose of a whale carcass back in 1970. While the incident happened years ago, an embellished version occasionally pops up in email form, sometimes shocking readers who believe it to be current news. In addition to inboxes, the story also resurfaces occasionally in newspapers and other print media and even on television.
During the incident, a 3-by-5-foot piece of blubber flew through the air and landed on, and crushed a Buick. This aspect is more than likely what makes the story seem unbelievable and considered an ‘urban legend’ but it did actually happen.
The real story is that the 8-tonne, 45-foot long sperm whale washed up in the Pacific Ocean south of Florence, and as the body decomposed, it stunk up the beach. The Oregon Highway Division decided to dispose of the body by blowing it up, believing that the seagulls would eat the remainders. They realized that burying the carcass would not work long term as the tide would soon uncover it.
The plan didn’t go quite as smoothly as hoped as some of the chunks of whale went flying towards onlookers instead of towards the ocean. The spectators were showered with small pieces of rotting flesh, and while no one was hurt, a large chunk of blubber severely damaged a car. The highway division then buried the remnants.
One other case where a whale carcass was blown up, occurred in 1937 when two men isolated at a lighthouse observed a shark and seabird feeding frenzy and the undeniable stench of rotting flesh. The whale had washed up due to a recent storm and the two men decided to rig explosives to dispose of the carcass. Also in the Pacific Ocean, in 1979 when a pod of 41 sperm whales washed up on shore, State Park officials disposed of the carcasses by burning them before burying the charred remains.