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1970s / Exploding Whale - 1970
On November 12, 1970, the good folks of Florence, Oregon awoke in their seaside community to an unusual sight and an awful odor. A dead 45-foot sperm whale had washed ashore. Already in the first stages of decay, the huge carcass' overpowering stench presented a major logistical problem. No one knew quite what to do with the departed sea creature whose weight was estimated at eight tons, but something had to be done quickly. Towing it back out to sea was considered but dismissed because of the whale's huge size. There was also no guarantee it wouldn't wash ashore again. Burying it on the beach was considered impractical too because of its size and the risk that erosion might expose the beast. The only logical solution, of course, was to blow up the dead whale with half a ton of dynamite and hope that scavenging birds would feast on the bits! The engineer in charge of the unique project--who was recruited from Oregon's Highway Division!--expected most of the whale blubber to be blown back into the shallow sea. It didn't quite work out that way. Local TV news reporter Paul Linnman describes what happened.