Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Stan Greene
Observer Staff Writer 

Exploding Whale: State to Blow Up Whale Beached at Dockweiller State Beach

Dynamite will be used to clear the beach before the July 4th Holiday. Warning: Graphic video

 

California Fish & Game will blow up a 40 foot humpback whale washed ashore at Dockweiler State Beach. Oregon authorities attempted to explode a rotting sperm whale carcass in 1970. Results were less than optimal. Above is a freeze frame from film of the 1970 exploding whale event.

Lifeguards were called over Thursday night when beachgoers walking their dogs, found a 40-foot long humpback whale carcass washed ashore at Dockweiler State beach. Some feared a major smell event that would ruin the 4th of July Holiday on the beach. It required quick action. So a radical decision was made.

The whale was located no more than half a mile from the West end of the runway at Los Angeles International Airport in Inglewood. People have barbecues there for the July 4th weekend. The whale presents a health hazard and besides, will soon smell something awful in the California sun. So lifeguards have made a radical decision: To tow the dead mammal out to sea, then blow it up with dynamite.

CalTrans denied any connection to the decision, saying we should look to another State division, e.g. the Dept. of Fish & Game. See below.

The decision is not without precedent. In November 1970, a dead sperm whale (reported to be a gray whale) on the beach near Florence Oregon was blown up by the Oregon Highway Division in an attempt to dispose of its rotting carcass. The theory was by blowing it up, crabs, seagulls and other scavengers would more rapidly consume the carcass. The explosion threw whale flesh more than 800 feet away. Parts of whale rained down on cars and people and although no one was injured, the results were certainly far from optimal.

The explosion caused large pieces of blubber to land near buildings and in parking lots some distance away from the beach. Only some of the whale was disintegrated; most of it remained on the beach for the OHD workers to clear away

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exploding_whale

The Oregon exploding whale incident became famous when newspaperman Dave Barry wrote about it, after viewing the TV news videotape. In 2007, footage went viral on Youtube. We've embedded the video hereinbelow.

In 1970, the explosion caused large pieces of blubber to land near buildings and in parking lots some distance away from the beach. Only some of the whale was disintegrated; most of it remained on the beach for the OHD workers to clear away. In his report, newsman Linnman noted that scavenger birds, whom it had been hoped would eat the remains of the carcass after the explosion, were instead scared away by the blast.

Ending his story, Linnman noted that "It might be concluded that, should a whale ever be washed ashore in Lane County again, those in charge will not only remember what to do, they'll certainly remember what not to do." But this time its different, assures a Caltrans spokesman, because the whale will be dragged 200 meters into the water first.

The discovery came days after a blue whale was discovered entangled in fishing net in the ocean further south than the discovery on Thursday night. Rescuers were not ultimately able to free that whale, which was a different species than the dead humpback whale at Dockweiler.

Update: I received the following e mails from a CalTrans spokesperson, just after noon Friday:

Hello: Just want to correct the facts in regards to this story. Caltrans has no involvement in this. The location is outside of state right of way. Please correct the story. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

California Fish & Game will blow up a 40 foot humpback whale washed ashore at Dockweiler State Beach. Oregon authorities attempted to explode a rotting sperm whale carcass in 1970. Results were less than optimal. Above is a freeze frame from film of the 1970 exploding whale event.

Thank you,

Micole Alfaro, California DOT (Department of Transportation)

Thank you. We'll make that correction.

In addition, please advise why the facts weren't checked with CalTrans, prior to publishing this story? Thank you, Micole

I'm wondering that myself! I will ask Stan Greene as soon as I see him. BTW, we're getting a lot of calls from other news organizations, since Stan put this out on Twitter this morning, and he has like 7 million followers. So you might want to tweet your correction too, Micole. Just a suggestion.

Please immediately remove any references to CalTrans from the headline, caption and story, as we have no involvement in this. Thank you.

 

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