Norwegians fear carcass may explode

“Well, I wouldn’t exactly call it an explosion, but it can be like an enormous fart. It would be quite unpleasant if the stomach blows up. It’s not very nice to have rotten whale parts showering over you.”

These comments were made by Tore Haug of the Norwegian Marine Research Institute in Bergen as he described a very foul-smelling whale carcass that has found its way into a Norwegian fjord. Mr. Haug certainly sounds as though he’s rather well-schooled in our favorite topic. Unfortunately, much of Norway is “familiar” with whales in a way that defies the international community. Perhaps this is how the whales strike back against Norway’s ongoing commercial whaling industry.

As for the photo, I’m honestly not even sure what it’s showing. Apparently, the entire exterior of the whale carcass has turned completely white. And it really stinks. Crews were trying to prevent it from making landfall by towing it our of the fjord. Meanwhile, several jurisdictions and researchers were trying to figure out how best to sink the bloated beast. Wonder if they’d consider dynamite?

Interestingly, this incident relates to two of the three types of exploding whales as described in our Taxonomy of Cetacean Detonation.

Here are the obligatory article links:

Update: Anyone know how to speak Norwegian? We’ve been linked to by an article on a Norwegian website. Unfortunately, I don’t read Norwegian and have no idea what the article says!

Update: Reader Cathy has kindly provided a translation of the Norwegian article in the comments to this post. Thanks, Cathy!

I’ve also quoted the original article quoting Tore Haug in the remainder of this entry for posterity.

Dead whale causes a stink
The rotting cadaver of a dead whale was floating in a west coast fjord on Wednesday, sending a foul odor over the area while officials worried it could explode at any time.

“Well, I wouldn’t exactly call it an explosion, but it can be like an enormous fart,” said Tore Haug of the Norwegian Marine Research Institute in Bergen.

He warned emergency crews trying to tow the cadaver out of the fjord that gases built up in the dead whale’s stomach could cause a blowout.

“It would be quite unpleasant if the stomach blows up,” Haug told web site bt.no. “It’s not very nice to have rotten whale parts showering over you.”

No one knows where the whale came from, or how long it has been dead. The 10-meter-long creature weighing several tons is believed to have drifted into the fjord between Bergen and Sotra.

“There’s a stink over the entire area from the whale that’s floating around 800 meters off Korsneset,” Per Stiegler, operations leader of the Hordaland Police District, told new bureau NTB. “We don’t want to risk having it wash ashore under any circumstances.”

Frode Vindenes, a volunteer with the Bergen Sea Rescue Corps, was among those trying to keep it away from land. “The whale is completely white and it smells intensely,” he told Aftenposten.no. “It’s almost deteriorated. There are seagulls all over it.”

The police, Coast Guard, Bergen officials and marine researchers were trying to sink the whale. They hoped to find a way of disposing of it by the end of the day.

Aftenposten English Web Desk
Nina Berglund

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One Response to “Norwegians fear carcass may explode”

  1. Bergen reader Says:

    FYI: The article from the Bergen Tidende (www.bt.no) basically reads as follows: The whale operation went according to plan last night. The carcass was taken out to sea and sunk in 600 meters deep water. Divers secured a heavy load of reinforcing iron (‘rebar’ as it’s called in the U.S.) and stone to the carcass. It sank nice and orderly. Pieces broke off during the process, and were taken care of properly. The fire department’s boat, which carried out the process, was back in port by 3am. The order to sink the cadaver came quickly after the carcass was found in waters outside Bergen. The article goes on to quote the represetative from the Bergen Kommune that they feel ready to handle any other problems in the future, due to the training they had from handling this cadaver. The article then reports of other countries having such problems, and gives the link to your website.

    Sorry, no dynamite 🙂

    Editor’s note: Thank you for providing this translation for my readers!