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The 50th Anniversary of the Iconic Exploding Whale

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 12, 2020

Fifty years ago today, on the beach outside a small town in Oregon, local officials used way too much dynamite (a half ton!) to dispose of a beached whale with a result that seems predictable in hindsight: chunks of whale absolutely everywhere. The explosion was captured on film by local TV station KATU and in the 90s, it went viral on the internet.

As it turns out, that was overkill. Mammalian marine guts spewed everywhere, raining down on townsfolk. A quarter-mile away, cars were smashed with chunks of cetacean carcass.

This story remained a local legend for two decades, until the early ’90s , when the newspaper columnist Dave Barry mentioned seeing footage of the exploding beast. Soon after, this video clip — originally reported by Portland news channel KATU — went viral on the internet, long before “going viral on the internet” was even a thing.

You should watch it if you’ve never seen it, and if you have, you should definitely watch it again today in all of its digitally remastered 4K glory above. I clearly remember the day at work in the mid-90s when someone discovered this video and the entire office came to a halt as we all watched it over and over again in a tiny QuickTime player window on a small computer screen — it’s just as hilarious today as it was back then.