In a sad and gruesome twist, the initial explosive charge set off directly above the brain of a stranded juvenile humpback whale in Western Australia failed to kill the animal.
After the whale continued thrashing for several minutes, a wildlife officer began firing several shots into its head, as can be seen in the photo above. After a total of 15 minutes, a second charge was detonated, finally killing the suffering creature.
This was really the worst possible outcome of the decision to euthanize this stranded whale. Really, once you’ve made that decision, can there be such a thing as using too many explosives? I mean, if your plan is to “put it out of its misery,” then why not just plan to blow it to kingdom come? If you think X pounds of explosives is enough, why not just use 5X for good measure?
And if the explosives didn’t kill it, why would they then think that shooting it full of bullets for 15 minutes was going to finish the job?
The thought processes that lead to this outcome are completely lost on me….
That being said, I truly believe that the wildlife officials involved were trying to act with mercy. Hopefully, the errors made will be exposed so a similar tragedy can be avoided in the future.
- Humpback shot after explosives failed – The West Australian
- Stranded Jurien Bay humpback put down – PerthNow
Update 1-OCT-2008: The official government media release of the operation makes no mention of the complications:
Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) marine wildlife officers this afternoon oversaw an operation to euthanase the animal using a technique approved by the Department’s Animal Ethics Committee. The approved technique involved using charges to cause an implosion above the brain.
- Stranded whale put down – Western Australia Dept. of Environment and Conservation