Let me set the situation for you: You are bobbling towards an unexplained floating item on a bright, windy California day. Closer examination reveals it is a large, bloated whale carcass floating with natural gasses. You think to yourself, “This thing might explode at any moment,” before the whale ejects the entire contents of its body in a massive, gory eruption. Does this sound like something you would be interested in seeing? WTF is to thank for this. You can do it outside. The user, which posted the footage to YouTube, claims that the offal explosion occurred near Tomales Bay on the California coast. Because it is only a brief clip of footage before its identity is obscured by a billowing torrent of blood and organs, it is impossible to tell what species of whale is bobbing on the surface, although gray whales, blue whales, and humpback whales are the most prevalent cetaceans in the area.
“It’s not pleasant to watch an animal explode, but it’s also biologically fascinating,” one YouTube user commented. Biologically fascinating is one way to describe it, as the film swiftly devolves into a guess-the-internal-organ game. Following a gory, boom the deceased whale’s mouth floods with everything from intestines to lungs and what appears to be a spleen. You have a stronger stomach than we have if any keen-eyed zoologists out there have a moment to clarify which is which. Gassy explosions like this one are a normal component of these animals’ disintegration, and stories of exploding whales have spread around the world. Dead whales have bobbed their way to beaches and even the Staten Island shore with their bellies full of gas (a particularly memorable carcass for its near-spherical appearance).
While their enormous mouths and bodily cavities can keep the death burp for a long time, they are prone to eventually releasing it for dramatic effect. Residents of Tainan, Taiwan, discovered this the hard way when a 60-ton sperm whale on its way to a scientific institution for a necropsy detonated in the middle of a busy street. In this case, the whale’s entrails ruptured from its belly, splattering blood and guts all over shops and homes. The ensuing devastation elicited diverse reactions, with some praising the foul odor and others flocking to “feel” the whale’s penis size.
Of course, no discussion of exploding whales would be complete without mentioning the Great Whale Explosion of Oregon in 1970. Officials felt they had no choice but to arrange an explosion to remove a roughly 14-meter (45-foot) sperm whale that had washed up on the shore in Florence, and the results were… unpleasant. Exploding a whale appears to follow the Goldilocks Principle: the volume of explosives must be just right. The extremes allowed; either a small amount to toss the carcass out to sea, or a large amount fully obliterates the whale. You do not want to be stuck in the middle, which is exactly where the highway division tasked with blowing up the Oregon whale found itself on that fateful November day.
The subsequent explosion blew out huge chunks of blubber in a “mighty gush of tomato juice,” as observers described it. Before crashing into buildings, cars, and people, whale boulders traveled a long distance. In good humor, the people of Oregon chose to honor their history by naming a park after the horrific occurrence. When life provides you whale chunks, you should probably build the Exploding Whale Memorial Park.