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The Doncaster Council shared the tale of a sperm whale that died and washed ashore near the city of Florence, Ore., in November 1970. City officials attempted to blow up the 45-foot, 8-ton mammal – a plan that went “horribly wrong,” the council said in a thread on Twitter.
At the time, the Oregon State Highway Department decided to use 20 cases of dynamite to disintegrate the mammal. They believed seagulls and other scavengers would clean up any remains.
A military veteran at the scene reportedly warned officials against using so much dynamite, and the official in charge admitted he wasn’t sure how much would be enough. But the plan went ahead anyway.
KATU-TV reporter Paul Linnman covered the effort, which attracted a large crowd of spectators. Officials moved the onlookers back about a quarter mile for safety and set off the dynamite.
“The blast blasted blubber beyond all believable bounds,” Linnman says in his televised report.
The onlookers were covered in a downpour of whale blubber. Pieces soared and a large chunk crushed the roof of a car, though no one was hurt.
“When you ignore expert advice and act like an idiot, you cover everyone else with decaying whale blubber,” the council in England tweeted in its coronavirus pandemic analogy.
Not only was everyone covered in blubber, but the whale largely remained intact. Scavengers wouldn’t touch the carcass. Officials spent the rest of the day burying it on the beach.
“The problem hadn’t gone away, only now there were thousands of bits of problem spread for miles around,” the council said, alluding to how the coronavirus could spread if social distancing wasn’t practiced.
The council’s final point was that everyone should stay home and “let nature take its course.”
“Sometimes, it’s better to just sit at home and do nothing than go outside and do something ridiculous,” the council said.
The city of Florence, Ore., responded to the viral thread: “We can all learn from the past. #StayHomeSaveLives.”