Why dead Whales are so dangerous
Whales. They are by far the largest animals on earth The Blue Whale is very likely even the largest animal to have ever lived That a lot of people have a fascination with whales is therefore not really surprising. So whenever somewhere a whale is washed up on the shore even if it's dead you can expect that it will attract many bystanders the chance to safely gaze at one of these giants and Even inspect them up close is something that people typically don't want to miss out on but in actuality it's not as safe as it might seem At any time an explosive rupture of the whales body Can spread several tons of internal matter in a fraction of a second at a speed of up to 70 km/h (43mph) Over 50 meters (160ft) across the beach especially if someone decides to poke the carcass, tries to move or even climb on it But what causes this phenomenon? When a whale dies and the blood circulation and the respiration stop its body has no way of removing excess carbon dioxide and other waste products Which causes an acidic environment in the cells as a result the cells lose their structural integrity and their membranes rupture, which causes the animal's tissues to break down additionally bacteria naturally present in the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract start to proliferate consuming the body's carbohydrates lipids and proteins This process is referred to as putrefaction and causes organ liquefaction and the accumulation of a variety of gases like carbon dioxide methane and nitrogen These gases then build up inside the animal which causes the cadaver to bloat sometimes to twice its original size At some point when the pressure gets too high Fluids and gases are forced to escape from natural orifices such as mouth or anus Sharks can also contribute to the creation of these sorts of weak points These processes aren't just present in whales The build-up and subsequent release of gas happens with most animals as they decompose even in humans But it's usually fairly unspectacular What makes it so extreme and potentially dangerous in whales simply has to do with their size More mass means more gas and therefore bigger pressure additionally a thick layer of blubber beneath the skin contains the pressure much better and longer than in other animals So when a whale beaches and no scavengers can create weak points to relieve the pressure You can sometimes end up with a spectacularly bloated carcass The whale's own body weight can even cause orifices to close up Intensifying the problem.
At this point a carefully performed controlled release of the whales Internal pressure by making a shallow slit with a long-handled knife is the best option to avoid an uncontrolled explosion But even this can be potentially dangerous as shown in a viral video from 2013 where a sperm whale Exploded in a spectacular fashion while a marine biologist was cutting it open in an attempt to release the pressure inside the carcass Another notable instance of an exploding whale occurred in 2004 in Taiwan as another sperm whale exploded while being transported to a research centre near the southwestern city of Tainan splattering cars shops and bystanders with blood and guts But by far the most spectacular whale explosion happened when a large grey whale washed up on the shore of Oregon in 1970 – although humans have contributed slightly more to that particular explosion officials from the Oregon State Highway Division Tasked with removing the carcass were unsure what to do with a giant whale but ultimately decided to simply try to blow it up a charge of half a ton – 20 cases of dynamite – was selected even though a military veteran with explosive training warned them that this was far too much The hope was that the whale would be almost disintegrated by the explosion and that all small pieces still around after the explosion would be taken care of by seagulls and other scavengers But instead the explosion sent hundreds of pieces of whale blubber hundreds of metres into the air The roughly is 75 bystanders as well as a news team which were there to film the explosion quickly had to start running for their lives as it began to rain large chunks of dead whale in a radius of up to 250 meters (820 ft) around the carcass.
The veterans brand new car was even hit by a particularly large piece of blubber Completely destroying it after the dust had settled It became clear that the explosion had not only scared away all the seagulls who were supposed to clean things up But it had also left the remaining chunks far too big for any bird to eat Which meant that the highway crews had to spend the next few days cleaning up the mess all on their own.