From Today I Found Out.
Whales are among the largest animals to have ever lived, with the Blue Whale, at a whopping 173 metric tons, holding the absolute record. Thus, the rare occasions when a dead whale washes ashore tend to cause massive headaches for the local population and authorities, not only due to the massive bulk and nauseating smell, but also the alarming tendency of whale carcasses to explode. Like most animals, as soon as a whale dies the bacteria in its gut begin to digest it from the inside, leading to a buildup of gas that causes the corpse to swell up and eventually burst. This is exactly what happened on January 29, 2004, when a 17-meter Sperm Whale washed ashore at Tainan City, Taiwan. The animal was lifted onto a trailer and was being driven to the Sutsao Wildlife Reservation Area for necropsy when it suddenly exploded in the middle of a busy city street, showering some 600 onlookers in blubber, blood, and whale guts. But not all whale explosions are caused natural processes; one bizarre incident in 1970 involved rather more human intervention, and would, for better or worse, help put a small Oregon town on the map.
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