Just Blow It Up!


In November 1970, a dead giant sperm whale washed ashore the Oregon Coast. And the Oregon Highway Division whose responsibility it was to deal with such things didn’t know what to do about it.

Their thought process went something like this:

  • We cannot bury it because it is too large, and there is too little sand in that area.
  • Moving it would be too much of a task to undertake. That would mean towing it off shore most likely.
  • Sea gulls like eating dead things.
  • So if we can’t bury it or tow it, we should blow the whale up into small enough chunks, and let the sea gulls take care of the problem.
Great minds were clearing trying to solve this problem. They all decided that blowing it up with dynamite was the correct solution. The sea gulls will be in heaven as a side benefit.
The day of the great whale explosion was met with lots of spectators as well as a Portland news station.
And they blew it up – and created one hell of a smell mess and damaged cars.
Paul Linnman was the young reporter on the scene at that time. He remained a reporter in Portland until his retirement recently. Hell, he even wrote a book about his time reporting the news where this story in particular was highlighted. He talked about not getting the smell out for days.
And his greatest line from the newscast: “The blast blasted blubber beyond all believable bounds.”
I actually have a copy of this video. I play it on days where I feel like nothing is going right. Where nothing I try to do goes as planned. And, while watching and laughing at the absurdity of this story, I remind myself that at least none of my ideas involved dynamite and a large dead whale – nor was the stupidity captured for all to see almost 40 years later.
I mean, the guy who had that idea – he is still not able to live it down. You should have things blow up in your face every once in a while – sometimes those things are the greatest teachers in life. But, blowing up a fucking whale? At least I didn’t do that!
To read more about this incident and the media attention that went along with it (including columns by Dave Barry), check out TheExplodingWhale site. And, if you are looking for a fun and uplifting book to read about Paul Linnman’s life, check out his book. Definitely worth a read.

Regardless, watch the whale and feel good about yourself and your ideas. Did you blow up a whale? No? Then you’re good.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Great post. I am afraid to watch the video. I fear that it will be like the bear on trampoline video and I will sit slack jawed in my chair hitting the repeat button over and over again and not working.

  2. Emmy says:

    Probably a good call because you will watch it more than once. But, you have to remember to go back and watch it. It is the actual news report that they did – and, well, it is quite amazing to see what happened and the outcome.

  3. Just me... says:

    Okay. It was just a silly idea from the beginning.. Blowing up a whale, please!! You can imagine that few, if any, actual demolitions experts were consulted.
    And EWWWW!!!
    Whale guts everywhere!!!!

  4. blowing up a whale… lol only in Oregon!

  5. Osbasso says:

    I remember seeing video of this years ago! Thanks for bringing that back!

    And ASM–the bear video? That was taken here in Montana!

  6. Emmy says:

    Paige – totally goofy idea. Can’t help but believe that they just wanted to use dynamite for something….and figured why not use it here.

    Mexi – Go to the website I link to…it shows it wasn’t just our idea…and it wasn’t just 30 years ago either.

    Osbasso – I love the video too – and go back to it quite frequently for a laugh.

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