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If you found a dead whale, how would you dispose of the body?
July 28, 2009 2:56 PM   Subscribe

When whales die: Yesterday, a 20-30 foot whale washed up a shore in New Jersey. Officials are going to deal with it by cutting it up into small parts and burying it. In previous incidents, officials tried to explode it into bits that were meant to fall in the ocean and get eaten by seagulls, but that didn't work out [YT] so well, especially for nearby spectators. Even if you want to let it decompose naturally, you have to be careful for spontaneous explosions due to gassy buildup. Especially when transporting it in busy city streets. Oops. When whales die in the ocean, on the other hand, their bodies eventually fall to the sea floor and can start mini ecosystems, where female pink glowstick-like sea worms that harbor the male pink glowstick sea worms inside their bodies live, eat whale bones, and propagate. (Previously on Metafilter: Taiwan explosion)
posted by Salamandrous (46 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Better pics of the Taiwan incident (not pleasant!) [via]
posted by Burhanistan at 3:00 PM on July 28, 2009


First, be smart from the very beginning. Pulverize all teeth, burn off fingerprints, and disfigure the face...
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:04 PM on July 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


Huh. That's near where I grew up. A couple weeks ago one of the local papers reported that people had seen a whale very close in to shore off Sea Bright. Wonder if it was the same one, and had been sick a while.
posted by Miko at 3:10 PM on July 28, 2009


Does this post have a fucking porpoise?
posted by Elmore at 3:11 PM on July 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


The sea does what it oughta...
posted by Banky_Edwards at 3:12 PM on July 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


First, be smart from the very beginning. Pulverize all teeth, burn off fingerprints, and disfigure the face...

...then stuff them inside a whale carcass and blow it up.

Done and done.
posted by yoink at 3:13 PM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is why I am happy that MetaFilter does not allow images to be displayed.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:13 PM on July 28, 2009


This is why the img tag needs to be brought back ... oh
posted by Elmore at 3:15 PM on July 28, 2009


This is what it sounds like when whales die.
posted by permafrost at 3:17 PM on July 28, 2009


Some talented MeFite needs to write a song called "When Whales Die" to the tune of Prince's "When Doves Cry." That MeFite is not me.
posted by brundlefly at 3:19 PM on July 28, 2009


Dang it. I can't look at the video right now, permafrost. Did you just make the same joke?
posted by brundlefly at 3:21 PM on July 28, 2009


How can u just leave me bloating?
Alone on a beach that's so cold? (So cold)
Maybe I'm just decomposing
Maybe I'm just like my father 2 moldy
Maybe you're just like my mother
She never putrified (She never putrified)
Why do we bream at each other
This is what it sounds like
When whales die
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:23 PM on July 28, 2009 [28 favorites]


Not quite, no.
posted by permafrost at 3:23 PM on July 28, 2009


a 20-30 foot whale

Is it oscillating, or do the news media in NJ not know where to find a tape measure?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:27 PM on July 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


There is Portland TV station that has footage of the disastrous effects of blowing up a beached whale from about 20 years ago. Perhaps a copy should be sent to all states that have a coast.
posted by Cranberry at 3:32 PM on July 28, 2009


There is Portland TV station that has footage of the disastrous effects of blowing up a beached whale from about 20 years ago. Perhaps a copy should be sent to all states that have a coast.

Or they could even look in the links in this post.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:33 PM on July 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


They never told me that the worms glowed.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:36 PM on July 28, 2009


Banky_Edwards: Thank you! The Asylum Street Spankers do a remake of that song on their kids album, and I've been scratching my head for quite some time now trying to remember where I'd heard/seen it before.
posted by gurple at 3:40 PM on July 28, 2009


Please, getting rid of a dead body in New Jersey can't be that hard.

I know a guy in "waste management" that'll be glad to solve your dead whale problems, for a small fee of course.
posted by chillmost at 3:42 PM on July 28, 2009


We see the effect...but this may be a possible cause

http://www.savebiogems.org/whales/
posted by Postroad at 3:43 PM on July 28, 2009


I would lift it by dirigible to the top of a mountain and leave it to become a bone chapel in which I would carve scenes from the life of the whale and from the whale in literature.

Or I would tow it out to sea.
posted by pracowity at 3:44 PM on July 28, 2009


pracowity: Or I would tow it out to sea.

Seriously, all the tugs in the NYC/NJ port area, and they can't spare a single one to tow this thing out to sea? How could chopping it up and burying it *possibly* be a better use of taxpayer dollars, or of the carcass?
posted by paisley henosis at 3:48 PM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


This sounds like a job for WhySharksMatter and his posse!
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:58 PM on July 28, 2009


A dead whale made the news here recently. They decided to just put it back where it came from.
posted by Pseudonumb at 4:01 PM on July 28, 2009


The worms are the latest discovery in a branch of biology focused on the life that springs up on sunken whale carcasses. These carcasses — “whale falls,” in science-speak — dot the ocean floor and sustain colorful and mysterious oases of life
I first read that as "Whale Fails"
posted by delmoi at 4:02 PM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's ok to dump toxic waste into the sea, but don't even think about dumping a dead whale there! That would be wrong!
posted by amethysts at 4:04 PM on July 28, 2009


Awesome post.

Whale Fall.
posted by WPW at 4:04 PM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whale Fall.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:49 PM on July 28, 2009


Whuffle
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:50 PM on July 28, 2009


I think the science behind Postroad's link is pretty well accepted:
The case even made it to the US Supreme Court, who didn't deny the science, but who unfortunately thought it was more important to defer to the military.
posted by jetsetsc at 4:57 PM on July 28, 2009


i'd like to die that way :P glowstick worms!
posted by kliuless at 5:00 PM on July 28, 2009


I like whales... but they've got to go.
posted by psmealey at 5:07 PM on July 28, 2009


If a whale-fall is "equivalent, in food content, to thousands of years of life-sustaining carbon particles," then I wonder what a Brontosaurus-fall would have been like.
posted by kanewai at 5:20 PM on July 28, 2009


whale fall > brontosaurus fall
posted by Sys Rq at 5:46 PM on July 28, 2009


Fail Whale.
posted by empath at 6:18 PM on July 28, 2009


Yeah, why not just tow it out to sea? Even in pieces, it would at least be of use to the rest of the ocean.
posted by emjaybee at 7:12 PM on July 28, 2009


why not just tow it out to sea?

IANADWRS, but I would think that, at least in these case, it is logistically not feasible to do so. Most tugs need a deeper draft than sandy beaches, so you'd be looking a a very long tow rope that would need to be tied off on the whale by had--very dangerous for the men attempting that. Also, you'll have to drag it pretty far out or it will just come right back to shore on the currents. Once it's out to sea, what then? You don't want to detonate since the concussion wave will probably kill lots of innocent fish. You also probably don't want to leave it floating as it could drift right into shipping lanes and possibly damage smaller craft in a collision. I suppose you could get a crew of divers to hack it up with underwater construction equipment, but there again is a significant risk for injury and you might have trouble finding insurance for that. So, every option that might seem like a easy fix on the surface has its share of obstacles that are quite difficult to surmount.

In the past, people probably just endured the stench and cut these suckers up on the beach for fertilizer, lamp oil, pig food, corsets, etc. If times get desperate enough we might go back to that and dead whales will again be commodities. Maybe someone can patent a special enzyme or microbial blend that will eat these away in a few days.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:15 PM on July 28, 2009


Burhanistan: "... easy fix on the surface ..."

I sea what you did there!

that was pretty abyss-mal, wasn't it?
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:18 PM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I find the exploding whale on the beach news story to be one of, if not THE funniest I've ever seen. I first saw it years ago on some Inside Edition type show and had managed to record most of it on a VHS tape, then I'd see it pop every now and then on the internet. A different version each time but you could always tell the eyewitnesses were trying not to laugh while retelling the story.

This is the first time I've seen the original newscast and its easily the best - "soon to become land BLUBBER newsman for the blast blasted blubber beyond all believable bounds". So good.
posted by jeffmik at 9:55 PM on July 28, 2009


They're saying it might have been hit by a boat -- a shame.
posted by gettkcarter at 10:26 PM on July 28, 2009


The exploding whale in the pictures upthread *appears* to have exploded through the back, odd unless something struck and damaged it there. In fact, I always wondered why the science guys thought it was a grand idea to drag a bloated whale through a busy town center without first breaking out the pointy stick.
posted by fingerbang at 10:54 PM on July 28, 2009


i'd like to die that way :P glowstick worms!

Other names for these industrious little dudes include Bone-eating Snot Flower, which frankly doesn't have quite the same attraction.
posted by vanar sena at 12:20 AM on July 29, 2009


So, every option that might seem like a easy fix on the surface has its share of obstacles that are quite difficult to surmount.

OK. Then we're back to the plan with the dirigible and the mountain.
posted by pracowity at 3:31 AM on July 29, 2009


Dead whales occasionally washing up on campus is why going to a beach university was awesome.
posted by lostburner at 3:34 AM on July 29, 2009


Not many people know this but - fittingly, in my opinion - the notorious American eugenicist Charles Davenport (he died in 1944) was killed by a rotting whale.

His career had long gone up the spout so he was passing his retirement, in part, as the curator of a Long Island whaling museum. He was trying to boil the stinking flesh off the skull of a locally beached killer whale in an outdoor shed one January, caught pneumonia - and expired.

(He'd attended staff meetings right up to his death & the stench of boiled, decaying whale meat in his hair and clothes was so puke making - no one would sit near him.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 6:49 AM on July 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


Great post. Thanks!
posted by matty at 11:31 AM on July 29, 2009


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