Stab Magazine | Disposing Of A Whale Carcass Is Very, Very Difficult

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Disposing Of A Whale Carcass Is Very, Very Difficult

Fill it with dynamite? Chop it to pieces? Tow it? Bury it? 

news // May 2, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

On Sunday, a 40 foot whale washed up at Lowers. You’ve heard about it. I read an article in the New York Times about it a few days back, so, uh, it’s become national news. How to remove the whale’s been widely debated. The agreed-upon solution was carried out yesterday; they chopped it up, all rotting 60,000 pounds of it, loaded it on a truck and hauled it out to a San Diego landfill. “We’re really wanting to encourage people to please stay away so we can do the work as expediently as possible, without having to stop for interference from the public,” State Park Superintendent, Rich Haydon, told the OC Register.

The trials and tribulations of whale removal starts here.

Heavily featuring in the conversation around the whale is the possibility of increasing the shark population in South Orange County waters. Something that nobody, anywhere, particularly wants, and in the San Onofre area, great white sightings are common place. “Great white sightings seemed to coincide with the burying of a whale at Trails,” said Kelly Slater after the current whale rolled onto the cobblestone. 

Here’s something you may not know: There are actually two deceased whales in the area. One is drifting somewhere between Trestles and T-Street at this very moment. Which is a pretty significant bait ball, and yes, the hungry sea life is chewing it down. On Monday, a wild amount of whale guts and intestines washed up at T-Street. They buried it, because what else do you do? At the moment, the whole area around the pier smells very fishy (literally); If you’re down wind at Trestles, at the top of the hill or even Churches, you can smell the death.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/mBmRw7l787A

When a dead whale washes onto a beach they’re really fucking hard to get rid of. So, I gave myself a brief history lesson in whale removal. Starting with a personal favourite, sticking it full of dynamite and attempting to disintegrate the giant thing. The year was 1970, the place, Oregon. “Experts” filled the whale with explosives and everyone stood back a quarter mile. Upon detonation, chunks of decaying whale rained down on the bystanders. Cars were smashed and everyone on scene left dressed in whale particles. This (hopefully) was the last implementation of this method. 

https://www.youtube.com/embed/xBgThvB_IDQ

In Scotland, 2015, a 45 foot (13.8 meter) sperm whale washed up on Portobello beach. The whale had to be towed to a deep water harbour, lifted out by crane and lowered into the back of a semi-truck. The whale found its final resting place in a landfill. 

Not exactly an every day sight, but that’s one way to do it! Photo: SCOTTISH MARINE ANIMAL STRANDINGS SCHEME VIA FACEBOOK

In 2012, at Breezy Point, New York, a whale had to be buried in the same spot it died. Digging a hole deep enough to keep a whale of that magnitude buried without being unearthed by the tide is a feat in itself. And comes under much scrutiny from curious sharks. Much like the incident at Trails roughly 15 years back.

You know it’s an issue when the problem is larger than your construction equipment. Photo: Rueters

In 2004, in Taiwan, a 60-ton whale exploded on a busy street while being transported to a landfill on the bed of a semi-truck, a mixture of the heat and decomposition being the culprit. The very reason for the solution at Trestles. They’ll have to chop it into pieces before removing and it’s nearly impossible to get a semi down to the famed cobblestone pointbreak. “Once moved to a nearby nature preserve, the male specimen – the largest whale ever recorded in Taiwan – drew the attention of locals because of its large penis, measured at some five feet,” the Taipei Times reported. “More than 100 Tainan city residents, mostly men, have reportedly gone to see the corpse to ‘experience’ the size of its penis,” the newspaper reported.

Unless you’re a real sicko, this is fucking disgusting. Photo: Taiwan Apple Daily via Reuters

If there’s two things you can take away from this, one is that no one really knows what to do with a beached, deceased whale. Two, well, a five foot piece is quite a thing. 

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