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UPDATE: Exploding carcass researchers win award

January 26th, 2014

Two years ago, we brought you the fascinating story of some German and Swiss researchers who had investigated whether the carcasses of prehistoric “whales” (aka ichthyosaurs) ever exploded, which could explain why bone fossils are sometimes found scattered about instead of all together.

And today we have an update on their work.
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Columnist and Exploding Whale fan Bob Welch retires

January 24th, 2014

Long-time Register-Guard columnist Bob Welch, ardent fan of the Exploding Whale, wrote his last column on December 5, 2013.

Bob’s many columns mentioning Oregon’s Exploding Whale have long been featured on this site. Bob wrote several columns that featured Oregon’s Exploding Whale prominently, but he also loved to weave in references to the Exploding Whale in columns that had nothing to do with it.

While he’s leaving the newspaper business, he plans to remain active as a writer and speaker. And even though he didn’t work in a mention of the Exploding Whale in his final column, we here at the TheExplodingWhale.com still wish him all the best.

Because he was such a fan of the Exploding Whale, it only seems fitting that we memorialize his final column on our site — even though it doesn’t mention our favorite topic!

Links to his interview with KLCC and the original RG column appear below:

Update:

KMTR aired a story about Bob’s retirement in late January:

Sperm whale explodes in Faroe Islands

January 1st, 2014

On November 26, 2013, the carcass of a dead sperm whale violently exploded in the Faroe Islands when a marine biologist began cutting it open.

FaroeIslandsSpermWhale

Four sperm whales became stranded between the islands of Streymoy and Eysturoy. Two of the whales eventually died. A few days later, one of the dead whales was towed to a nearby abandoned whaling station (Við Áir) so the bones could be harvested for a future museum display. However, as they started to cut into the carcass, a violent explosion erupted from the whale’s abdomen spraying blood and entrails for many yards and nearly injuring Bjarni Mikkelsen, the biologist who was doing the cutting.

The story has been memorialized on our website here: Faroe Islands (11/26/2013)

Happy 43rd Exploding Whale Day!

November 12th, 2013

Today — November 12, 2013 — marks the 43rd anniversary of Oregon’s Exploding Whale. So, Happy Exploding Whale Day to you!

Of course, we’re all missing George Thornton, the Oregon highway engineer most responsible for the infamous blubber blast. He passed away just over two weeks ago.

Alas, life goes on. And occasionally we even learn something new, such as this gem from The Oregonian which had escaped me until today:

November 12, 1970. A day that will live in infamy. And hilarity. Call it Infalarity. Or Hilaramy. Whatever. But 43 years ago today, on November 12, 1970, at 3:45 p.m., the famous Exploding Whale – yes, THAT exploding whale — was blown up on the Oregon coast, in Florence. Meanwhile, in Portland, some 132 miles away as the exploding whale blubber flies, Tonya Harding was born.

Yes, that Tonya Harding.

Even if you don’t care about Tonya, you need to click through so you can read the first-ever set of “Tonya-and-the-Exploding-Whale” limericks!

George Thornton, the man behind Oregon’s exploding whale, has died

October 31st, 2013

George Thornton, the highway engineer who supervised the detonation of 20 cases of dynamite in an attempt to dispose of a dead sperm whale on the Oregon Coast, died on Sunday, October 27, 2013, in Medford, Oregon. He was 84 years old.

Thornton worked for the Oregon Highway Division (later renamed the Oregon Department of Transportation) from 1947 to 1984. He retired several years before the Exploding Whale story became an internet sensation thanks to an article written by Dave Barry.

Many years later, Paul Linnman, the KATU TV news reporter who covered the Exploding Whale story, reached out to Thornton while writing his book on the subject (“The Exploding Whale and Other Remarkable Stories from the Evening News“). Thornton declined to be interviewed, saying only, “No, it seems like whenever I talk to the media, it blows up in my face.”

We’ve archived several related articles:

Exploding Whale Tribute Song

March 10th, 2013

Here it is folks — a brand new tribute song for the Exploding Whale!

Click the play button on the embedded SoundCloud player below and then read on to learn about the artist and his inspiration….

Johnny Stuka’s SoundCloud profile reads as follows:

Johnny Stuka is the pilot of a stolen Stuka Dive Bomber that crashed into the English Channel in 1999. Fortunately his life raft inflated. Unfortunately, his whistle sunk to the bottom. Since then he has bobbed on the currents, occassionally sighting the white cliffs but always whilst being driven back out to sea by weather. More recently he has sighted France but is unsure how close he should go.

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It’s that time of year again….

November 12th, 2012

Just a quick note to wish you all a…

Happy 42nd Exploding Whale Day!

 

Inflated whale carcass mistaken for capsized ship

April 15th, 2012

The body of a dead and rotting Bryde’s whale, inflated from the gases of its decomposition, was mistaken for a capsized ship as it drifted toward the South African coast.