Fears subside that whale will explode

Since a Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus) washed up on the shore of a small Canadian town earlier this week, many people have waited in anticipation for the carcass to explode from a build up of gas as it decomposes.

However, according to the website http://hasthewhaleexplodedyet.com/ it is now unlikely that the whale will explode as bloating has gone down. But why were the locals of the town of Trout River so worried? Are exploding whales a common problem?

The answer is no. When whales die they usually sink into the depths of the ocean where their bodies decompose and are eaten by scavengers. However they do occasionally wash up on shore and can become a bit of a smelly problem if there is no way to drag the carcases out to sea, or bury it.

Exploding whales have been filmed previously, including the clip below where a scientist sent to cut up a dead Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus) that had washed up on the Faroe Islands narrowly escaped being smothered in whale intestines.

Caution – the video is not for the squeamish!

The 25 metre whale currently lying in Trout River is thought to be one of a group of nine whales that died earlier this month after becoming trapped by shifting ice further offshore. However, this whale is disposed of, official will definitely not attempt to blow it up as officials in Oregon, USA did in the 1970s. Needless to say, blowing up a gassy, bloated whale with dynamite did not end well.

To learn more about the Blue Whale, check out the ARKive website for pictures, videos and facts!


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