What to Do With a Dead Whale

Washed-up hulks are difficult to dispose of

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 8, 2007 9:59 AM CDT

(Newser) – The rash of dead whales washing onto California shores recently isn’t just an ecological tragedy; it’s a mammoth challenge. Disposing of whale carcasses is notoriously difficult, the LA Times explains. Pull one out to sea, and it will probably drift back—as a 70-ton whale did in Malibu twice last week. After a burial on a San Diego beach, leaking oil drew sharks that terrorized surfers.

With tons of blubber, whales are too buoyant to sink at sea. Cremation can work, if there’s no one around to smell it. Oregon officials once tried blowing one up, only to have blubber rain down on hapless bystanders. Two marine biologists offer sage advice: “The simplest way for a carcass to disappear is to turn your back on it and walk away.”

"Every time a whale washes up, it becomes a political mess," said Joe Cordaro, a Long Beach-based biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service.   (KRT Photos)
Different disposal options include anchoring and sinking a whale, effective on smaller carcasses, cremating, which generates a smell unwelcome in populated areas, and dynamiting, which can be alternatively,...   (KRT Photos)
Spectators float in for a better look at a 20-metre long (65.62-foot) Bryde's whale carcass. Scientists and politicians alike agree that there is no perfect solution to disposing of a whale carcass.   (Getty Images)
A man looks at a dead stranded sperm whale in Yogyakarta. Many creative disposal techniques have been employed to remove dead whales, including cremation and dynamite.   (Getty Images (by Event))
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Dead Whale Dynamite = Bad Idea   (BurntPickle (YouTube))

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