The US Government Tried To Explode A Whale In 1970 And Apparently We Can Learn Some Coronavirus Lessons From What Happened

Just quarantine things...


by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

‘In November 1970, officials in Oregon, USA decided to blow up a rotting whale carcass,’ begins a tweet from Doncaster Council. ‘The whole thing went horribly wrong. Why do we bring this up? Well, this story can teach us 3 things about #coronavirus.’

It’s our third Tuesday in quarantine and this is our life now: reading tweets from Yorkshire councils about beached whales being exploded and why that is essential reading for our current global pandemic. Safe to say, it’s not even the weirdest thing that’s happened in our lives recently.

But, we’re intrigued. What exactly can we learn from the government blowing up a whale 50 years ago?

Well, it all starts with the logic behind blowing up said whale. Apparently, a 45-foot sperm whale washed up on a beach in Florence, Orgon in November 1970. It was going to decompose if left there, and so local officials debated their options: let it decay, chop it up and bury it or… the obvious conclusion: blow it up with dynamite and WAIT FOR IT… ‘hope that seagulls ate all the small chunks’.

Stay with me now.

After concluding that blowing up the whale was the best course of action, they set about finding dynamite. George Thornton, the engineer in charge of the explosion, apparently didn’t have much experience blowing up whales and thus birthed this terrifying tweet from Doncaster Council:

‘By his own admission, he wasn’t sure how much dynamite would be needed to completely obliterate one of the world’s largest mammals, so he opted for half a tonne.’

After Thornton and the other officials were advised by an ex-member of the military that it would be too much and a few sticks of dynamite would be enough, ‘they ignored his advice’ and set about exploding the whale ‘in front of a crowd of excited spectators’.

Wow, how things have changed, huh?

‘Very quickly, the short-sightedness of the plan became evident,’ writes the council. ‘The huge amount of dynamite sent massive chunks of blubber flying through the chilly air, and it rained down around the terrified onlookers. The overwhelming smell sent people running for their homes as rotting whale plopped down around them. The situation was dangerous - a car was even crushed by a huge lump of blubber a quarter of a mile away.’

And in the end, the ‘main bit of the whale’ didn’t even move. ‘The problem hadn’t gone away, only now there were thousands of bits of problem spread for miles around,’ the council tweeted.

When you act like an idiot, you cover everyone else with decaying whale blubber

So, you can see the lesson coming. From this absolutely ludicrous tale of history, Doncaster Council has surmised the following tips:

‘DON’T IGNORE THE ADVICE THAT EXPERTS GIVE YOU. They know what they’re talking about.

‘Sometimes, it’s better to just sit at home and do nothing than go outside and do something ridiculous. Let nature take its course.

‘When you ignore expert advice and act like an idiot, you cover everyone else with decaying whale blubber. #StayHome and stop being selfish.’

Poignant. Powerful. Moving. Chef's kiss

Naturally, everyone is kind of obsessed with this absolutely ridiculous story – with not only the original tweet receiving near 70,000 likes but the final word of wisdom about us being covered in whale blubber at more than 30,000. It seems, this whale metaphor has absolute hit the spot – so much so the Twitter account for Florence, Oregon shared the story with the message ‘we can all learn from the past!’.

Who knew idiots blowing up a whale 50 years ago could be so prevalent today? More than that, who knew you would ever read those words? Like we said, quarantine things.

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