Consumer Environment — 08 December 2012

The saga of Malibu’s rotting dead whale – and what to do about it – has some recalling a similar incident over 40 years ago on a beach in southern Oregon. In that case, state officials decided to remove a dead whale by blowing it up with dynamite.

The 45-foot sperm whale washed ashore near Florence in November, 1970. The eight ton carcass was too big to remove and was stinking up the beach, so half a ton of dynamite was brought in.

A hilarious televised report on the explosion by KATU-TV reporter Paul Linnman  became legendary and even inspired a website called “The Exploding Whale” decades later.

Tongue planted firmly in cheek, Linnman reported that “land-lubber newsmen” became “land-blubber newsmen” running for cover as “the blast blasted blubber beyond all believable bounds.”

As the years went by, the story of Oregon’s exploding whale was largely forgotten and became something of an urban legend reported by Snopes.

Malibu’s dead whale. Twitter image by flashphotojeff

But in 1990, humorist Dave Barry wrote about the blubber blast in the Miami Herald.That renewed interest in the KATU video, several versions of which have been posted on youtube.com.

No one is suggesting a similar explosive solution for the dead, 40-foot fin whale that washed ashore last week at Little Dume, a small beach near Malibu.

No government agency has stepped forward to remove or bury the whale. Malibu city officials say Los Angeles County should take care of the whale, but the county says it’s a state matter.

The rotting corpse has become something of a tourist attraction — along with the palatial homes of Barbra Streisand and other celebrities that line the cliffs above it.

Ignoring the smell, people stop and take pictures of the whale’s protruding bones and blubber.

Marine mammal experts believe the whale was probably hit and fatally injured by a ship.

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Pat Anson, Editor

Pat is Editor in Chief of American News Report. He is a veteran journalist and a former correspondent and producer for HealthWeek (PBS), Nightly Business Report (PBS) and other nationally syndicated shows. Pat has won numerous journalism awards, including a Golden Mike award for investigative reporting.

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