Explosion would delay whale burial

An article in the The Daily Telegraph newspaper of Sydney, Australia discusses plans to bury the carcass of a pygmy blue whale that recently washed up on an island near Perth. Because the island is a popular recreation and tourist area, officials decided to bury the carcass rather than tow it out to sea and risk attracting sharks to the area. However, there was one potential problem cited (emphasis ours):

[Officials] said if the whale exploded because of a build up of gasses in the stomach the burial could take longer than the three days allocated.

Oil from the dead whale already on the beach would take up to two to three months to disperse, but if it did explode more oil would be released and more sharks attracted, the authority said.

You can read the short article here: Dead whale to be buried (or read quoted version below). And for additional information about putrefaction-related whale explosions, take a look at our Taxonomy of Cetacean Detonation.

Dead whale to be buried

December 20, 2005 04:02pm

DUMPING a dead 20 metre whale at sea could attract sharks around a West Australian tourist island where it washed up and will instead be buried.

The Rottnest Island Authority has ruled out towing the pygmy blue whale back out to sea saying it would be too risky.

The whale is believed to have died from natural causes before washing up on Strickland Bay beach on the island, just off Perth, last Saturday.

An earthmoving company has been contracted to cut up the whale and bury it inland on the island away from ground water supplies and lakes.

The island authority said if the whale was towed out to sea there was a risk it could attract sharks to the island, which was a big recreation and tourist attraction.

It said if the whale exploded because of a build up of gasses in the stomach the burial could take longer than the three days allocated.

Oil from the dead whale already on the beach would take up to two to three months to disperse, but if it did explode more oil would be released and more sharks attracted, the authority said.

Strickland Bay beach has been closed to the public and will be reopened when safe.

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