The Phoenix

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Reissue: Hallelujah It's Raining Blubber!

The following is one of my earliest fifth, actually. It was back in the day when I had maybe four people reading my blog. It's a true story of how a bunch of Oregon engineers attempted to use dynamite to rid the beach of a dead sperm whale that had washed up. You need to watch the video. There's another link within the story as well - it plays on Windows Media Player, and is work safe. Enjoy, and make sure you're not drinking soda when you watch the footage...

It was November in 1970 when a 45 foot 8 ton sperm whale washed up on a Florence, Oregon beach. The townspeople flocked to the curious site, but after a few days, the rotting corpse began to smell really bad. So on Nov. 12, the Oregon State Highway Division decided to dispose of this huge carcass using modern day engineering practices and good 'ol fashioned American ingenuity.

Led by the legendary highway engineer George Thornton (pictured right), this Oregon "thinktank" decided to use dynamite (and lots and lots of it) to disintegrate the whale to allow seagulls and other scavengers to naturally dispose of the remains.

Sounds like a plan to me!!!

When Paul Linnman of KATU Oregon news asked him about this ingenious flexing of engineering muscle, Mr. Thornton replied, "Well, I'm confident that it'll work. The only thing is we're not sure just exactly how much, uh, explosives it'll take to disintegrate this... thing."

How many cases of dynamite should they use? 5, maybe 10?

Try 20...20 cases of TNT, or one-half ton of it.

75 local bystanders looked on from a quarter of a mile away as Thornton and his band of happy engineers strategically placed the dynamite under the dead whale. They put the dynamite where they believed it would be best so the blown bits would go towards the Pacific Ocean.

When the half-ton of dynamite exploded, the guests were oooooh-ing and aaaaaah-ing. It was a marvelous sight to see. A giant ploon of smoke covered what used to be a beached whale...and soon the bystanders and reporters were running for their lives as huge chunks of whale blubber rained down on them.

On the video, you can hear a woman screaming, "Here come pieces of...MY GOD!!!!!!!!!"

A car parked a quarter of a mile away from the whale was completely destroyed by a huge mass of blubber, but thankfully no one was seriously injured - IF you don't consider being covered in rotting whale guts, blood, and innards "injured."

As the smoke cleared, a gigantic mass of half blasted sperm whale still remained on the beach. The seagulls were no where to be found, and people who had been watching in awe were now trying to wipe away stinky whale bits from their faces. In the end, they had to bury the whale...and people rushed home to shower for seven days.

To commemorate this special day in marine disposal, the state of Oregon has declared November 12th as "The Happy Feast of the Exploding Whale." It's probably a great occasion for locals to celebrate by eating as much seafood as possible until they feel like they are about to burst.

Just keep the engineers away from the dynamite.


Blogger Laurie said...

OMG... talk about Freeing Willy.

Leave it to the State Hwy Dept to come up with that brilliant idea.

That was pretty damn funny..

1/03/2006 8:56 AM  
Blogger Eve said...


1/03/2006 9:18 AM  
Blogger BrianAlt said...

I remember when this happened.

1/03/2006 10:26 AM  
Anonymous delmer said...


Myth Busters fans may notice that an exploding whale looks a lot like an exploding cement truck.

A quarter mile is not all that far ... as those folks now know.

1/03/2006 10:31 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

They are fortunate no one was hurt, as huge hunks of rotten whale blubber hurling from a quarter mile away can do some damage - as you can see from the car.

The smell must've been just absolutely horrible.

1/03/2006 10:39 AM  
Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

I like how on the video you see chunks dropping from the sky and hear chunks hitting the ground. It's like a blubber plague. Flying chum!!
I'd say that guy's calculations were a bit off. I wonder where he is now?

1/03/2006 10:46 AM  
Blogger Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

I'm NOT watching the video until I finish my yogurt.

Maybe not even then.

Ew. Just plain ol' ewwwwwwww.......

1/03/2006 10:57 AM  
Blogger KC said...

I'm at work so cannot watch the video right now. I can't wait to see it when I get home! Sounds funny!

1/03/2006 10:58 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

George Thornton was given the tast because his supervisors had gone on a hunting trip.

6 months later, Thornton was actually promoted. He has since retired from the Oregon Department of Transportation in 1990.

He stil lives in Medford, Oregon.

1/03/2006 11:01 AM  
Blogger :P fuzzbox said...

That was one crazee video. The voices in the background were priceless as one woman blubbered about the blubber.

1/03/2006 12:03 PM  
Blogger angel, jr. said...

I want to vomit, thinking about the smell and also the fleshy pieces flying everywhere.

1/03/2006 12:30 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

Yeah, they assumed the fish and other wildlife would eat what remained of the whale. I doubt there's a pelican big enough to wisk away half a ton of rotten blubber.

1/03/2006 1:06 PM  
Blogger Mojotek said...

Oh my god. That was awesome... I think the engineers just used their titles to get away with what they always wnated to do as kids: Blow sh*t up!

1/03/2006 1:14 PM  
Blogger Orikinla Osinachi. said...


The scene would be good for the movies.

We can write a screenplay on it.

A romantic comedy would be fine.

1/03/2006 1:39 PM  
Blogger Dirk the Feeble said...

I've seen that video before, but American ingenuity continues to amaze me.

1/03/2006 3:06 PM  
Blogger siren said...

Hey! I was one of those four people that read it the first time. It's still funny :-)

1/03/2006 6:25 PM  
Blogger Mike ( ex scientia, veritas ) said...

Dude, LMAO at the video about blowing the whale up. Stooopid, I think I worked with some of those brilliant minds.

YOU sir will be on my blogroll tomorrow - too funny!! This is a great blog, thanx!

1/03/2006 6:48 PM  
Blogger Keshi said...

**people who had been watching in awe were now trying to wipe away stinky whale bits from their faces.



1/03/2006 7:09 PM  
Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

George Thornton is probably a bit of a celebrity.
It's not every day that a guy blows up the rotting corpse of a sperm whale on the beach. He certainly had his 15 minutes!

1/03/2006 7:18 PM  
Blogger Erin O'Brien said...

Phoenix, I keep running into your comments in blogland ... wierd.

1/03/2006 7:27 PM  
Blogger Anhoni Patel said...

eeeeew. That is so nasty! I don't believe you though about this: "The Happy Feast of the Exploding Whale."

1/03/2006 8:37 PM  
Blogger Big Pissy said...

Just READING about it was bad enough. NO WAY am I gonna watch it!!!

1/03/2006 9:05 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

Come on, BP, watch the's really amazing. It's not close up, as the cameras are a quarter mile away. You do see hunks of stuff raining down...

Just don't watch it before or right after a meal.

1/03/2006 9:09 PM  
Blogger kim said...

Ah now this brings back memories. This is possibly the first thing I ever saw on the internet ages ago. My dad, a high school physics teacher, actually used the video to do a project on projectiles. :)

1/03/2006 9:20 PM  
Blogger ObilonKenobi said...

I remember this story from a while back. i think the video made the rounds. Too funny.

1/03/2006 10:06 PM  
Blogger cube said...

What were they thinking?

1/04/2006 11:52 AM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

Well, who wouldnt think dynamite would fix it all? Isnt that always the answer?


BTW-I sent you an e-mail, but my computer was possessed and I had to nuke it, so I'm not sure if you got it or the response was eaten.

1/04/2006 12:34 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...


I found the e-mail and just replied. My posts about "the science of love" are always popular.

Any resources you have from your work would be greatly appreciated.

1/04/2006 1:47 PM  
Blogger PDD said...

Perfect example of a quick fix. And a severe case of Downs syndrome.

1/04/2006 1:53 PM  
Blogger PDD said...

Pheonix, you are my science god. I'm glad you post.

1/04/2006 1:53 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

Whoa, science god???

Thanks so much for your kind words. I'm glad I get to write and post these things up for all of you too.

1/04/2006 3:17 PM  
Blogger FantasticAlice said...

Now, see if they had just gotten some french perfumist to come in the sperm whale would have vanished and we would have had overpriced pefurme abounding.

1/04/2006 4:20 PM  
Blogger FantasticAlice said...

Engineers are always trouble.


1/04/2006 4:20 PM  
Blogger Sar said...

Phoenix - I hope you're enjoying your reign as this week's inspirational blogger!

1/04/2006 8:58 PM  
Blogger KC said...

Ohmygosh! I just now had a chance to finally watch the video. I'm at home in the living room watching it on my computer with my headphones on because Hub-Man is taking a nap on the sofa. At least he was til my wild laughter woke him up.

1/05/2006 6:40 PM  
Blogger FLAMINGO1 said...

I love the exploding whale. I shared it with several friends. It sort of reminded me of the episode of WKRP in Cincinnati when they threw the turkeys out of the helicopter.

Good stuff!

1/06/2006 3:16 PM  
Blogger Laura:) said...

Lol, they are lucky it didn't hit a human. What a way to die!

1/13/2006 9:09 AM  
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7/14/2006 3:22 PM  

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