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Like a ticking whale bomb
April 30, 2014 9:39 AM   Subscribe

'This Dead Whale Could Explode at Any Minute' Its status is being updated here. Previously, 2, 3.
posted by ChuckRamone (100 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Now that's a warning you pay attention to.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:40 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


And I thought the MIT online coffee mug was sweet. THIS is bringing the net back to what it should be!
posted by symbioid at 9:42 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


I look forward to Frankie McDonald's weather report...
posted by symbioid at 9:44 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


Serious question: why don't they just punch a hole in it?
posted by furtive at 9:47 AM on April 30 [3 favorites]


Serious question: why don't they just punch a hole in it?

That turns out to be a bad idea.
posted by The Tensor at 9:51 AM on April 30 [27 favorites]


I've been working my way through the radio broadcasts of the Firesign Theatre and in one of the shows they spend a couple minutes riffing on the Florence, OR whale explosion when it was a then-current event.
posted by ardgedee at 9:51 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


IS ANYONE HERE A MARINE BIOLOGIST?
posted by zarq at 9:55 AM on April 30 [13 favorites]


I don't know if it's something that should be hoped for but, in light of all the anticipation, I hope this whale explodes. Would kinda suck if it was a dud.
posted by ChuckRamone at 9:57 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


would be funnier if it imploded
posted by spicynuts at 9:58 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


>Serious question: why don't they just punch a hole in it?

>>That turns out to be a bad idea .


why did I click that link? no good could come from it.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:59 AM on April 30 [8 favorites]


Exploding Whales used to be great, I'll never forget that first album.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:59 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


I feel like harpooning this thing from a safe distance might be a workable option to release the methane build-up without anyone in the immediate line of fire.

But that's probably really, really wrong.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:00 AM on April 30


Has This Dead Whale Exploded Yet? The answer may surprise you get you covered in dead whale parts.
posted by gwint at 10:01 AM on April 30 [5 favorites]


From the article: "Actual solutions to disposing of a whale carcass include: digging a hole, towing it out to sea or cutting it up into smaller pieces—carefully."

If you tow it out to sea, is there any chance that the eventual explosion will pose a hazard to boats?
posted by zarq at 10:02 AM on April 30


The best seafood wraps are made by dancing under a cloud of exploding whale guts with a pita on each outstretched hand.
posted by planetesimal at 10:02 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


Also, tacos.
posted by planetesimal at 10:02 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


"That turns out to be a bad idea."

That is way worse than banging a tube of biscuits on the counter.
posted by komara at 10:03 AM on April 30 [11 favorites]


"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn."
posted by Fizz at 10:03 AM on April 30 [3 favorites]


Cloudy with a chance of OH LORD T'HUNDERIN' JESUS!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:03 AM on April 30 [11 favorites]


It's weird, I'm not a nutso animal empathist or anything, but pictures of dead whales always make me feel so god damned sad.
posted by Think_Long at 10:03 AM on April 30 [4 favorites]


"....towing it out to sea or cutting it up into smaller pieces—carefully."
posted by Fizz at 10:06 AM on April 30


Serious question: why don't they just punch a hole in it?
That turns out to be a bad idea.
Wow, the experience of watching that video was like a short version of the experience of watching Why Does Herr R. Run Amok. Even knowing what was eventually going to happen, my mind started wandering, glancing around at what "similar videos" YouTube listed, thinking about some errands I have to run, and then BLAM! out of nowhere as if I had no idea at all.
posted by Flunkie at 10:06 AM on April 30 [6 favorites]


Jack Bauer is punching a terrorist.

"TELL ME WHERE THE WHALE BOMB IS!"
"It's on the beach for fuck's sake!"
"TELL ME HOW TO DEFUSE IT!"
"What if you got a giant harpoon and..."
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:06 AM on April 30 [4 favorites]


Can't they just teleport it someplace?
posted by maudlin at 10:08 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


Beat the rush: apply large amounts of dynamite to the corpse.

This has been tried. The thought was that the carcass would be blasted into small enough pieces that the birds would clean it up. The actual result...well...it turns out there's a lot of meat on a whale and giant chunks of it shattered car windshields surprisingly far away.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:08 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


well...it turns out there's a lot of meat on a whale and giant chunks of it shattered car windshields surprisingly far away.

I'm gonna file that under Things I Didn't Know and Things I Never Thought I'd Learn.
posted by Kitteh at 10:12 AM on April 30 [3 favorites]


That whale is right next to those houses. If it blows up there (either a controlled or uncontrolled explosion) those residents will definitely need to take a hose to the sides of their homes.

Trout River is in Gros Morne, which is a national park that gets a lot of tourists, which is an important part of the economy in that part of the world. This international attention is probably a bit of a mixed blessing. If the whale starts to stink, though, it'll become a real deterrent to visitors, right at the peak of the short tourist season too. I hope it gets towed out to sea - dead whales are really important to the marine ecosystem!
posted by erlking at 10:13 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


Also, growing up on the south coast of Newfoundland, we had a few minke whales beach from time to time, but this was on an undeveloped stretch of coast about 15 minutes drive from town. I never saw evidence of an explosion, but once the carcasses were picked clean people would gather whale ribs to use as gracefully curved retaining walls for their gardens and such.
posted by erlking at 10:16 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


If the whale starts to stink, though, it'll become a real deterrent to visitors, right at the peak of the short tourist season too. I hope it gets towed out to sea...

... so it can become Maine tourism's nightmare.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:17 AM on April 30


THAR SHE ...
.
.
.
...wait for it...
.
.
.
...still waiting...
.
.
.
...refreshes...
.
.
.
...fuckit, Imma go get lunch.
posted by drlith at 10:23 AM on April 30 [4 favorites]


From the article: "Actual solutions to disposing of a whale carcass include: digging a hole, towing it out to sea or cutting it up into smaller pieces—carefully."

If it could pop at any moment, it seems like all of those should have been done much earlier instead of now when the extra stresses of enacting a solution make it likely to explode mid-remedy. As often, the best way to deal with an unwanted corpse is to first, be smart from the very beginning.
posted by Copronymus at 10:23 AM on April 30 [6 favorites]


... so it can become Maine tourism's nightmare.

Trout River is 840 km from Maine, and, in any case, if the carcass got out of the Gulf of St Lawrence it'd probably get caught in the North Atlantic current, which flows in the opposite direction. It'd be more likely to be end up in Iceland than in Maine, but my money would be on it ending up in PEI.

I wonder if LM Montgomery ever considered an episode where Anne Shirley encounters an exploding whale.

(seriously though, once the gas is released, it'd sink to the bottom and feed lots of bottomfeeders)
posted by erlking at 10:24 AM on April 30


I'm sort of more bummed out over the dead juvenile blue whale than I am interested in the possibility of explosions. Blue whales are like the coolest goddamn animals.
posted by Sokka shot first at 10:24 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


They haven't updated hasthewhaleexplodedyet.com in three hours. WHAT ARE THEY HIDING FROM US?
posted by Etrigan at 10:25 AM on April 30 [6 favorites]


If it could pop at any moment, it seems like all of those should have been done much earlier instead of now when the extra stresses of enacting a solution make it likely to explode mid-remedy.

It's been dead a while, but I don't think it's been on the town's beach for very long.
posted by erlking at 10:25 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


♫ Whale meat again - don't know where, don't know whennn
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 10:28 AM on April 30 [22 favorites]


Ummmmm... parent of the year?
posted by Huck500 at 10:28 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


Why is there no Web Cam?
posted by kenaldo at 10:29 AM on April 30 [3 favorites]


Maybe I'm dense, but it seems to me that you'd want to put someone a reasonable distance on the seaward side of the whale and use a firearm to put holes in its tum-tum until it deflates.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:41 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


It'd be more likely to be end up in Iceland than in Maine, but my money would be on it ending up in PEI...

seriously though, once the gas is released, it'd sink to the bottom and feed lots of bottomfeeders


Well, I guess that explains why they're famous for their mussels up there.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:44 AM on April 30


The Tensor: "Serious question: why don't they just punch a hole in it?

That turns out to be a bad idea .
"

The best part of that video is the magnificent impotence at the very end as the man steps forward with a hose that at best produces a tiny dribble of water completely incapable of making the tiniest impact on the mess at hand.
posted by chavenet at 10:45 AM on April 30 [8 favorites]


I recently read a really great book about the story of the whaleship Essex, not knowing there was an actual true story that inspired Moby Dick, and it has a chapter at the end that goes into the modern day dissection, disposal, and preservation of various parts of a washedup whale carcass by a team of scientists.

Gruesome but very interesting stuff that was a great clincher to an amazing story in and of itself. It was cool to read about them going to the local whaling museum to get some vintage tools out of a display case to butcher the carcass on the beach.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:51 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


If someone would just pet it kindly it would get thin.
posted by Kabanos at 10:53 AM on April 30 [11 favorites]


You have inspired me to make an animated gif :)

http://cdn.makeagif.com/media/4-30-2014/k6F0AY.gif
posted by darkfred at 10:54 AM on April 30 [6 favorites]


With a big enough syringe, one could decompress the gases harmlessly. It works for bloated human bodies also.
posted by Renoroc at 10:59 AM on April 30


Sadly I don't think it's going to explode. Not spectacularly anyway. See the ribbed appearance of the skin? That's the baleen. The gas is building up in the whales throat and mouth, not it's belly. For maximum explodiness you really need a body cavity full of gas. This is why sperm whales explode better.

Oh and that other biologist is clearly exploding the whale on purpose. There is no other reason you'd stick a fleansing knife in a bloated whale while covered head to toe in rain gear.

Source: am biologist, often poke dead things with sticks.
posted by fshgrl at 10:59 AM on April 30 [41 favorites]


Kabanos: If someone would just pet it kindly it would get thin.
darkfred: You have inspired me to make an animated gif :)

I was very disappointed to discover that those two posts are not at all related.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:00 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


It's too far to tow it out to the abyssal deep waters, and make a whale fall for the deep sea life.
posted by jjj606 at 11:00 AM on April 30


YOU WON'T BELIEVE WHAT WE FOUND INSIDE THIS BLOATED WHALE CORPSE, BUT WHEN YOU SEE IT, YOU'LL LOSE YOUR MIND!
posted by blue_beetle at 11:12 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


There is no other reason you'd stick a fleansing knife in a bloated whale while covered head to toe in rain gear.

I'm skeptical. Why you ask? No goggles. The rain gear was because of the rain.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:20 AM on April 30


Poor Trout River! On top of the world with its Newfoundland Tidy Towns Awards in 2010 and 2013...and now this.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:25 AM on April 30 [3 favorites]


Just wanted to point out that the Smithsonian's writer apparently has dyslexia: the whale is 81 feet long, not 18.
posted by sensate at 11:34 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


“The [whale] skin is starting to lose its integrity and if someone were to walk along, say, the chin — that is full of all that gas — they could fall in the whale. The insides will be liquefied. Retrieving them would be very difficult.

“I have fallen through the side of a whale up to my chest. It’s not very nice. And if the animal is up against the shore and there are waves battering it, and it’s moving, then you can imagine what would happen if it rolled over onto a child.”
posted by bonehead at 11:57 AM on April 30


Still not exploded.
posted by Kabanos at 12:05 PM on April 30


Note that Newfoundland Standard Time is 30 minutes ahead of Atlantic Standard time, which is an hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time, so it might explode earlier than you think.
posted by Kabanos at 12:12 PM on April 30 [4 favorites]


Surely there's something that will react with methane and, you know, de-gasify it harmlessly. Science, don't fail us now!
posted by dhartung at 12:16 PM on April 30


What you need is a crossbow and an umbrella.
posted by Namlit at 12:22 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]


What you always need is a crossbow and an umbrella. Regardless of what Douglas Adams would have you believe.
posted by Etrigan at 12:24 PM on April 30 [4 favorites]


Fire can take care of methane!!!!!
posted by annsunny at 12:25 PM on April 30


So, flaming arrow, crossbow and an umbrella.
posted by plastic_animals at 12:39 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]


“The [whale] skin is starting to lose its integrity and if someone were to walk along, say, the chin — that is full of all that gas — they could fall in the whale. The insides will be liquefied. Retrieving them would be very difficult.

I have fallen through the side of a whale up to my chest."


Looking forward to this making a nightly appearance in Quicksand Nightmare Variety Pack Vol 3
posted by theodolite at 12:45 PM on April 30 [6 favorites]


Somebody could really make some quick loonies opening a lawn-dart stand down the seawall a bit.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:46 PM on April 30 [3 favorites]


Yipes, the photos in this short piece about the whale explosion in Taiwan are pretty horrific. Not pictured: "the male specimen -- the largest whale ever recorded in Taiwan -- drew the attention of locals because of its large penis, measured at some five feet, the Taipei Times reported."
posted by exogenous at 1:03 PM on April 30


When you're called a "sperm whale" you've got a reputation to live up to.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:09 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


Surely this is a job for scarabic's body disposal services?

I had to deal with a dead elephant seal once. I can't imagine the scale of this problem.
posted by Rumple at 1:13 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


exogenous: "drew the attention of locals because of its large penis, measured at some five feet."

Don't tell the penile enlargement industry or we'll be hearing endless commercials on late night television hawking methane injections.

May cause bloating, discomfort, flammability and EPD: Exploding Pecker Disorder. Use only as directed.
posted by zarq at 1:17 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


Peter Murphy's song Exploding Like A Whale.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:51 PM on April 30


Talk about blowing chunks.

Eeesh.
posted by droplet at 2:28 PM on April 30


Whale I'll be.
posted by Twain Device at 2:30 PM on April 30


turns out to be a bad idea

I was expecting a different exploding whale video.
posted by mediocre at 2:31 PM on April 30


It would be very cool if they could tow it out to see with a set of cameras and sensors around it to document the whale fall on a long term basis. Perhaps some kid of Internet connected split bouy to send us a live stream.
posted by humanfont at 4:58 PM on April 30


Just throw a tarp over it, it'll be fine. Or, since the town's kids are probably bored troublemakers who will eventually do it anyway, promise them a free milkshake if they go at it with pointed sticks on the ocean-facing side. Hang up some of those little scented pine trees and forget about it.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:05 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]


Here's video of it getting knocked around by the surf. Looks explodey.
posted by surplus at 5:15 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


seriously though, once the gas is released, it'd sink to the bottom and feed lots of bottomfeeders

So it will be on the Jersey Shore?
posted by Splunge at 6:34 PM on April 30


Fshgrl wrote: am biologist, often poke dead things with sticks.

I now realise that becoming a biologist was my childhood ambition. Why was I never told this.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:43 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]


That's like finding out one of my friends' fathers is some kind of scientist that sets things on fire to see what happens when they burn, yeah. WHY DIDN'T THAT COME UP AT CAREER DAY?
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:32 PM on April 30


They haven't updated hasthewhaleexplodedyet.com in three hours. WHAT ARE THEY HIDING FROM US?

They can't find the computer to update because it's covered in whale guts?
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:07 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'd be rigging up a sharp knife on a long pole. Don't try to puncture the carcass, just introduce a weak spot on the ocean facing side, so that when it does fail, it fails the way you want it. It'll still smell like a biblical curse though.
posted by Popular Ethics at 8:31 PM on April 30


A common method, apparently, is to tow it out to sea then shoot it a few times. I'm guessing the carcass is too far gone for that now.
posted by bonehead at 8:33 PM on April 30


> the carcass is too far gone for that now.

Which is to say not gone nor going far at all, in any particular direction
And if they try to tow it out, it'll just get de-tailed ...
posted by hank at 9:09 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


A watched whale never explodes, apparently.
posted by Kabanos at 9:19 PM on April 30 [4 favorites]


Whenever a dead whale washes up on a beach in Australia, they chop it up and bury it in landfill, which seems SUCH a waste of valuable biomatter. They claim that if they tow it out to sea, it'll attract sharks, which will then attack human or something supposedly.
posted by trialex at 9:46 PM on April 30


Yeah, the devil's in the de-tails.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:48 PM on April 30


Sounds like a fluke to me.
posted by planetesimal at 10:21 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]


Serious question: why don't they just punch a hole in it?

That turns out to be a bad idea.


So the sperm whale exploded and the dude in rubber got some on his face. Does that count as a facial?
posted by hal_c_on at 11:28 PM on April 30


He said, "That's another fin mess you've gotten me into, Oilie!"
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:07 AM on May 1


The devil is in the entrails, rather. Still waiting (like us).
posted by Namlit at 10:11 AM on May 1


Talk about deflating. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted. I have the feeling conditions for this are best when it's warm, and the decomposition happens really rapidly. This thing is in a pretty chilly place and has plenty of time to slowly release gasses.
posted by ChuckRamone at 11:24 AM on May 1


Disappointed that it is not flying though the air going FFFFFFFFFFFFFFTTTHHHHHHHP.
posted by Kabanos at 12:18 PM on May 1 [1 favorite]


Fffffhhhtbthpft-t.

Much wind about nothing. Ah well, back to Doge 2048.

Reminds me of the True Story of a cow with wind-release issues: the vet put some kind of pipe in its side to help ease the pressure and they thought it a good idea to put a lighter to it to, you know, allow for a clean discharge. Cow saw the flame, panicked, and took off, lighting everything in its path. Farm burned down. I think they say the cow survived (this is old Europe for you).
posted by Namlit at 12:43 PM on May 1


Hey, so it looks like the Royal Ontario Museum will be taking the whale's body? That's pretty win-win.
posted by erlking at 5:22 PM on May 1


Namlit, that pipe thing is called a trocar. -I have watched way too many episodes of The Incredible Dr. Pol, yes I have.
posted by annsunny at 8:57 PM on May 1


exogenous: "Yipes, the photos in this short piece about the whale explosion in Taiwan are pretty horrific. Not pictured: "the male specimen -- the largest whale ever recorded in Taiwan -- drew the attention of locals because of its large penis, measured at some five feet, the Taipei Times reported.""

from that article: "More than 100 Tainan city residents, mostly men, have reportedly gone to see the corpse to 'experience' the size of its penis," the newspaper reported.

I don't even want to understand why they would use that "experience" in the sentence. Wasnt a more innocuous phrasing available?
posted by TheLittlePrince at 1:06 AM on May 2


Update on the museum's progress. Looks like tissue samples will be going out to researchers soon.
posted by bonehead at 7:55 AM on May 8


Tweet from Trout River.
posted by maudlin at 8:07 AM on May 8


Sorry, that last link actually referred to Woody Point, not Trout River.

Day 1: Retch count updated (Also)

Day 3: Ribfest

I have no idea what happened to Day 2.
posted by maudlin at 4:50 PM on May 10


Day 4: Some fun and not so fun facts about how she died

Also: I guess you can get used to anything.
posted by maudlin at 11:58 AM on May 12


Day 5: "All that’s left of the whale now is its lower jaw bones and the bone and flesh of its upper head (the whale has been lying upside down.) The whole job should be finished by Tuesday, when everyone involved plans to burn their work clothes. "
posted by maudlin at 12:00 PM on May 13


More workplaces should institute that practice.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:31 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Day 6: "Her fatty bits have been hauled off to landfill. Her bones are in a truck. "

Day 7: "But the rewards lying in wait for a reporter who could reduce her retch count from 10 a day to just two are hard to tally. Who has poked a blue whale’s baleen? Who has held a blue whale’s aorta, as wide across as a basketball?"
posted by maudlin at 11:46 AM on May 15


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