Bloated Dead Whale Washed up on Irish Shore After Fears of Explosion

  • A dead 60-foot fin whale washed up on a shore in Ireland on Sunday. 
  • Researchers came to collect samples and perform a necropsy on the large animal. 
  • However, the project had to be abandoned out of caution after concerns it could explode. 

A decomposing 60-foot fin whale corpse stranded on the Irish coast had to be abandoned by wildlife researchers looking to study it after concern that the dead mammal could explode. 

Experts near the dead whale, whose body washed on the beach on Sunday, noted that they heard “bubbling” when trying to cut into the whale to perform an animal autopsy. This led them to believe there was a risk that a build-up of methane gas produced as it decomposed could create enough pressure to send the whale’s innards flying, a phenomenon that has been caught on camera before.


The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, an organization that responds to whale strandings in the country, arrived in County Kerry, Ireland, to collect samples of the animal for research after its body washed on the beach on Sunday, according to the Irish Examiner

As they collected body parts for the necropsy, Stephanie Levesque, the strandings officer at IWDG, told the Irish Examiner that the team “heard some sounds and was like, ‘this is going to explode in my face if I go any deeper.'” 

The IWDG later deemed the whale “not suitable for post-mortem examination” and abandoned it, according to a post on their site. According to the release, the Kerry city council intends to let the dead whale remain on site as it decomposes.

“Unfortunately, this individual was too decomposed for a full post-mortem,” the IWDG wrote. “Stephanie collected a number of samples useful for biological studies but not able to establish cause of death.”

Levesque later told LiveScience that although she had heard “bubbling” noises when collecting samples, the fear that the whale would explode subsided after it was apparent that it would not likely occur. Instead, she told the publication, the fin whale was abandoned out of caution.

Bloated, dead whales aren’t uncommon though they can produce an unpleasant smell when they do happen. Towns have tried various methods of removing the corpses of beached whales, the most extreme method being the use of explosives.  



A famous example of this occurred in Florence, Oregon, in 1970, when engineers used dynamite to destroy the body of a 45-foot, 8-ton sperm whale. Officials and people gathered to watch the detonation soon discovered that not enough dynamite had been used, resulting in large chunks of whale blubber falling from the sky and covering the town.

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