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Wednesday, 01 August 2012 23:33

Thoughts on a dead whale - just what should Sydney do? Ask the Internet!


Today's discovery of a dead whale floating in an ocean-side pool on Sydney's northern beaches brings back memories of a very old Internet meme. Stay with me for a stroll down RAM ^H ^H ^H Memory Lane.

Dead whales have appeared on beaches all around the world, and the problem of what to do with thirty tonnes of stinking, rotten whale flesh has perplexed many a Government official. And of course the Internet has been right alongside to document the fun.

Probably the wisest method is to tie one end of a (very) long rope to a stout ocean-going vessel and the other to the whale. Add in a couple of substantial bulldozers to assist the carcass back into the water and you're laughing all the way to a deep ocean burial.

Plus or minus the rope.

Oddly, that hasn't always been the preferred method, as the various tales scattered across the Internet will tell us. It's always a worry when there's a Wikipedia page for something as odd as "exploding whales."

It was only recently (late January 2004) that a whale body washed up on a beach near Tainan City in south western Taiwan. After being refused permission to perform a necropsy on the whale at his local institution, a Professor Wang Chien-ping ordered the carcass be relocated to a nearby wildlife sanctuary.

Unfortunately, it didn't quite make it there.

With the efforts of three large cranes and 50 workers over a period of 13 hours, the whale was placed on a truck and driven through town toward the sanctuary. Roughly in the middle of the town, the skin of the whale finally gave way to the build-up of decomposition gasses inside and it exploded, violently, scattering fragments of skin, meat, entrails and blubber over the street, shops, on-lookers, cars and just about everything else within reach.

However, dynamite has always been the preferred option - and sometimes the whale doesn't even need to be dead first. A dying whale near Albany in southern Western Australia was killed with explosives before being towed out to see for the sharks to play with.

However, the most famous whale disposal incident take us back to a small town called Florence on the central Pacific coast of Oregon.

For reasons which will continue to be vague, beaches at the time were deemed to be highways and thus were the responsibility of the Oregon Highway Division.

The work crew determined that the best way to dispose of this particular problem was dynamite - about 500kg of it! The intention being that the carcass would fragment to such an extent that the pieces could be disposed of by birds, crabs and other scavengers.

For those who have never seen the video of this momentous occasion, I won't spoil the surprise, just watch the video.

For the rest of us, we have a song to sing. You know the tune, it's by Vera Lynn.

"Whale meat again, don't know where, don't know when. But I know whale meat again some sunny day."

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David Heath

David Heath has had a long and varied career in the IT industry having worked as a Pre-sales Network Engineer (remember Novell NetWare?), General Manager of IT&T for the TV Shopping Network, as a Technical manager in the Biometrics industry, and as a Technical Trainer and Instructional Designer in the industrial control sector. In all aspects, security has been a driving focus. Throughout his career, David has sought to inform and educate people and has done that through his writings and in more formal educational environments.

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