There can be few people who have not come across the great urban myth or the FOAF (Friend of A Friend) story. Surely everyone knows of a friend of a friend who, on getting married, requested the theme from the film 'Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves' expecting to walk down the aisle to the sound of 'Everything I do' by Bryan Adams but, on the big day, was accompanied to the alter with the Organist playing the theme from the Sixties TV programme. All together now - 'Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Riding through the glen.......'

Similarly, everyone knows someone who knows a man who knows a man who, whilst holidaying in the tropics, received a bite from a small spider. On his return to this country, the FOAF is disturbed to find the bite still itching after several months and eventually decides to visit his Doctor on the assumption that the bite may have turned poisonous. The doctor probes the head of the bite gingerly during examination at which time the wound pops and dozens of young spiders scurry out from the wound. Revolting that one, I know - but I can distinctly remember that FOAF story doing the rounds in the playground when I was at school. And believe me that was some years ago! Still, lovers of the unusual, the bizarre and the great Urban Myth can at last sit back and bask in the glow of a FOAF story that, apparently, is actually true. I refer, of course, to the great story of the Amazing Exploding Whale.

The story goes that a huge mammal was washed up on a beach in Florence, Oregon. It was a very large whale and very dead and drew a great crowd of interested spectators from the excited local population, who had never been this close to a whale before - even if it was deceased. However, curiosity soon gave way to revulsion as the hot sun made the whale's decomposing flesh turn ever so slightly rancid. In short, it stunk! The question now arose, how do you dispose of a dead whale?. The seagulls were hovering by the thousand now but the idea of leaving the whale for Mother Nature's creatures to dispose of did not seem a pleasant option. Certainly burying the whale on the wet sand wasn't an option either. One solution that soon presented itself though, was the idea of blowing up the whale using several tons of cleverly placed dynamite. Step forward the State Highway department with several boxes of dynamite resembling something from a 'Road Runner' cartoon. By the time that explosives had been strategically placed and the denotation arranged, the whole show had become a media circus. Families with picnic tables, binoculars and cameras soon arranged themselves along the sand dunes and people came from miles around to witness the event, including local news coverage with reporters and TV cameras.

The countdown to blast must have resembled a Space Shuttle launch,, as a voice booms out from a tannoy, warning everyone to stay away. Suddenly, the explosives ignite with a huge boom, the air shakes and the gathered crowd cheers and whoops as the whale explodes. These cheers soon give way to puzzled cries as small pieces start falling on the gathered crowds, these noises soon give to howls of disgust and screams of genuine revulsion as the spectators suddenly find themselves in a whale meat rainfall. The reverberations from the explosion are replaced by the sound of squelches and thuds as large pieces of meat fall from the sky, covering the dunes, spectators and parked cars. Some pieces are so large that they smash through car windscreens, crush roofs and demolish trucks parked over half a mile away. Families and news reporters take whatever cover is available, while red smoke billows over them accompanied by the sound of falling flesh.

As the smoke clears, the explosive team survey the damage which now amounts to several demolished vehicles, sobbing men, screaming women and children and a dead whale carcass that is now only three quarters as big as it was before while the other quarter is spread in both small and large chunks over a distance of a mile or so in every direction. Fortunately, no-one is seriously injured. Still, Let's hear it for the state highway department! Among threats of civil action and angry recriminations another team moves in with power saws and tractors accompanied by a few thousand happy seagulls....

Very, very funny, of course (assuming you weren't there) but surely just another myth to add to those others?. Not so! Fortunately for us, the late twentieth century is on hand to give us our proof; as a web site, completed with digitised media footage of the actual event is available for all. The soundtrack is absolutely hilarious and shouldn't be missed by anyone with a taste for the bizarre. The cheers turning to revolted cries accompanied by the sound of plopping whale meat is worth the cost of any on-line service provider.

Whale Meat Again

Oregon beach Whale

The true story of the incredible exploding whale.

When this article was publised in Freelance Informer in 1998, the only link I could provide was to an obscure web site that covered the full astonishing story to this incident which originally occured in 1970. However, the intervening decade has given rise to YouTube and other online streaming media, which  now provides us with genuine video footage. The fully updated Exploding Whale site (http://www.theexplodingwhale.com) now features Multi stream video and a wealth of information.

Incredibly, another whale washed up on the same beach in March 2009. TNT was not used this time.