Taiwan (1/26/2004)

About this page…

  • Date: 26-Jan-2004
  • Location: Tainan City, Taiwan
  • Species: Sperm whale
  • Category: Putrefaction

A stranded 56-foot, 60-ton sperm whale dies on a beach in Taiwan. Researchers want the carcass so they can perform an autopsy for educational purposes. So they strap the dead whale onto a flat bed truck and head off for the research station. As they drive through the city of Tainan, the buildup of gases resulting from the ongoing decomposition bursts through the rotting blubber. A river of whale blood, intestines and organs floods the city street. And another exploding whale tale is born!

There are three articles on this page plus a few extra images.

WARNING: This page contains images that may be disturbing or offensive.

Thursday, 29 January, 2004, 16:45 GMT

Whale explodes in Taiwanese city

A dead sperm whale has exploded while being delivered to a research centre near the southwestern city of Tainan.


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The sperm whale was being carried by truck through Tainan.


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Blood and guts litter this street in Tainan, Taiwan, after decomposing organs in the sperm whale in background caused it to explode.

Passers-by and cars were soaked in blood and body parts were sprayed over a road after the bursting of the whale, which was being carried on a trailer.

The whale had died earlier on a beach and had been collected so its remains could be used for educational purposes.

A marine biologist blamed the explosion on pressure from gases building up in the mammal as it began to decompose.

The whale attracted a lot of onlookers both before and after it exploded.

Several parked cars and pedestrians got covered in blood when it exploded.

Residents and shop owners wore masks while trying to clean up the spilt blood and entrails.

“What a stinking mess. This blood and other stuff that blew out on the road is disgusting, and the smell is really awful,” said one resident.

Professor Wang Chien-ping, of the National Cheng Kung University in Tainan, had ordered the whale to be moved to the Shi-Tsao Natural Preserve after his own institution refused to allow a post-mortem examination on its own premises.

Record find

He said that the animal had been close to death when it was found on a beach and had died by the time help arrived.

“Because of the natural decomposing process, a lot of gases accumulated, and when the pressure build-up was too great, the whale’s belly exploded.”

However, he said despite the explosion, enough of the whale remained to allow for an examination by marine biologists.

Professor Wang said initial observation showed the whale to be an older bull and that its weight of 50 tonnes and 17 metre-length made it the largest whale ever recorded in Taiwan.

Reports say because of the whale’s size, it took 13 hours, three large lifting cranes and 50 workers to get the mammal loaded on the trailer truck for its final trip.

© 2004 BBC


2004-01-27

Sperm whale explodes in Tainan City

Blood and guts of 17-meter long 50-ton mammal splatter sidewalks, automobiles parked nearby

Taiwan News, Contributing Writer / By Jason Pan

A dead sperm whale being transported through Tainan City on its way to a research station suddenly exploded yesterday, splattering cars and shops with blood and guts.

Certified by authorities as the largest beached whale on record in Taiwan, the 17-meter 50-ton carcass was being transported by a flat-bed trailer-truck to a special research location after National Cheng Kung University officials and security guards refused to allow the whale on campus.

The whale was to be preserved and an autopsy performed at the “Shi-Tsao Natural Preserve” in Tainan County by a team of marine biologists and taxidermists.

National Cheng Kung University marine biologist, professor Wang Chien-ping, was on the scene and said he had he instructed the truck driver to move the carcass so the whale could be used for educational purposes and an autopsy could be done.

The beached whale was found on along a stretch of coast in Yunlin County on Saturday.

“The animal was close to death when someone found it beached on shore on Saturday… Because of the natural decomposing process, a lot of gases accumulated, and when the pressure buildup was too great, the whale’s belly just exploded and spilled blood and the innards on the street,” Wang said.

Despite the explosion, enough of the whale remained intact that it will still be transported to the ‘Shi-Tsao Natural Preserve’ for a scientific examination, Wang added.

Local news reports showed a number of people who had gathered to take photographs of the whale before it exploded in Tainan City, as well as residents and shop owners following the explosion. Many were wearing gauze-masks and trying to clean up the spilled blood and the entrails with brushes and brooms.

“What a stinking mess! This blood and other stuff that blew out on the road is disgusting, and the smell is really awful,” said one resident.

The news also showed one section of the street along with several parked automobiles and pedestrian walkways covered in red with copious amounts of splattered whale blood.

Lying on the trailer-truck was the dead whale – underbelly exposed with a large elongated tear where the biological gaseous blowout took place. Besides the shocking red bloody mess, large piles of whale intestines and guts were strewn along the road, leaving an unpleasant and ghastly scene for startled residents.

According to Wang, an initial assessment suggested the animal looked like an older bull whale. He said the carcass weighed over 50 metric tons and measured 17 meters, making it the largest whale ever recorded in Taiwan. He told the press that previous record was an 11-meter sperm whale which was found beached along a Tainan County coast 8 years ago.

Local media reported the sperm whale was still alive when it was found lying on the seashore in Yunlin County by a fisherman on Saturday morning. The man informed the coast guard and the police for help. When the authorities and conservation groups arrived to attempt a rescue during the afternoon, they found the animal had died.


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The whale carcass is hoisted off the beach and onto the back of flatbed truck.


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Ready for transport, prior to explosion.

After the news had spread about the giant beached whale, a mini-circus festival atmosphere prevailed on the site. Throughout the day on Sunday, a large crowd of more than 600 local Yunlin residents and curiosity seekers, along with vendors selling snack food and hot drinks, braved the cold temperature and chilly wind to watch workmen try to haul away the dead marine leviathan.

According to local news reports, the animal’s record size proved a tough challenge for the work crews, and it took more than 13 hours, 3 large lifting cranes, and 50 workers to get the beached sperm whale loaded onto the flat-bed trailer-truck to be taken on its final trek.

© 2004 Taiwan News


11:48 a.m. ET Jan. 29, 2004

Thar she blows! Dead whale explodes

Taiwanese street, shops showered after gases built up inside

MSNBC staff and news service reports

TAIPEI – Residents of Tainan learned a lesson in whale biology after the decomposing remains of a 60-ton sperm whale exploded on a busy street, showering nearby cars and shops with blood and organs and stopping traffic for hours.

The 56-foot-long whale had been on a truck headed for a necropsy by researchers, when gases from internal decay caused its entrails to explode in the southern city of Tainan.

Residents and shop owners wore masks while trying to clean up the spilt blood and entrails.

“What a stinking mess. This blood and other stuff that blew out on the road is disgusting, and the smell is really awful,” a BBC News report quoted one Tainan resident as saying.

The whale had died on Jan. 17 after it beached itself on the southwestern coast of the island.

Researchers at the National Cheng Kung University in Tainan said enough of the whale remained to allow for an examination by marine biologists.

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.

Reuters contributed to this report.

© 2005 MSNBC.com


More Pictures

 


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The whale begins its journey to the city of Tainan where it will eventually explode.


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A worker makes a vain attempt to clean up hundreds of pounds of whale intestines with a garden hose.

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The whale is hoisted off the flat bed truck once it finally reached the research station.


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Students measure the whale carcass after it was delivered to the research station.