The Whale That Blew Up in the street

Saturday 25th – Friday 31st October

The documentary series examining freak
occurrences in the natural world continues. This
instalment focuses on the circumstances
surrounding the gruesome events of January
2004 when a dead sperm whale exploded in the
middle of a Taiwan street.
At 6.30am on 26 January 2004, police were called
to a grisly scene on a busy street in Tainan, southern
Taiwan. A huge dead body lay on the back of a
truck, while blood and entrails were spread across
the road, nearby cars and shopfronts. All the
stunned bystanders knew was that a whale had just
blown up in the street.
The 50-ton sperm whale – the biggest ever
recorded in Taiwan –was being transported from
the coast where it had washed up 24 hours earlier to
a university for examination. But the journey was
cut short by the unimaginable event. Large parts of
intestine, chunks of blubber and gallons of blood
burst from the tail section of the animal, bringing
traffic to a standstill. “It was just like a horror
movie,” recalls one eyewitness.
Before long, local news cameras arrived on the
scene and began to capture the surreal images.
Journalist Jason Pan realised that he was watching
a major event unfold. “This was the biggest story
I’ve ever been involved with,” he says. “It was kind
of funny in a macabre way.”
The man in charge of transporting the whale was
Professor Wang Chien-ping, of the National Cheng
Kung University, who wanted to perform a
necropsy on the animal. While the rest of the city
cleaned up, the indefatigable professor began the
long, unpleasant process of collecting the
miscellaneous body parts from the street.
The whale eventually reached its destination and
was placed under a huge canopy, where a 60-
strong team of scientists and volunteers started
the immense task of dissecting the animal. By this
time, hundreds of onlookers had gathered to
watch the scientists at work. “This sperm whale
became very famous,” says Professor Wang.
Four years on, the skeleton of the whale is a
popular tourist attraction in Taiwan and its story
has become part of local folklore. But the cause of
the explosion is still the subject of much debate.
Now, a team of international experts attempts to
get to the bottom of the mystery.
In Liverpool, vet Dr Julian Chantrey is convinced that
the explosion was the result of a natural process of
internal putrefaction. “Decomposition is when
organs and tissues start to degenerate,” he says. As a
result of this breakdown, bacteria normally confined
to the gut spread into the abdomen, absorbing the
body’s proteins and generating gases. As these
volatile gases increase, they put pressure on the
abdomen, causing the body to expand. Dr Chantrey
demonstrates this process using a dead pig. “This is a
very small-scale model of how it would be in the
whale,” he explains.
But can this natural process really be responsible for
such destruction? The pattern of body parts strewn
across the street, as well as the sheer power needed
to tear open an animal designed to withstand deepsea
pressure, suggests that something must have
acted as a trigger.
American marine biologist Dr Bruce Mate believes
that the process of moving the whale after its
death must have weakened the body, allowing the
rotten gases to escape in such explosive fashion.
“They had hold of a time bomb,” he says of
Professor Wang and the team. Early footage of the
transportation operation seems to support Dr
Mates’s theory.
But this is no open and shut case – there could yet
be another reason why the whale blew up. After
studying images of the explosion, marine biologist
Michelle Berman theorises that the whale may have
suffered a massive injury while it was still alive. If this
is the case, however, what could inflict such a huge
trauma on the biggest predator on the planet?

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  • bethany t

    y would u want to watch a documentry on wales you sad sad people i feel sorry 4 u hahahahahahah beth

  • annonymuss xxx- you know what that means

    i think that if this thing was alive i would like to shag this mofo like a blue whale nevermind a sperm whale!! man i want to have some sick hardcore mofo sex!!!! bareing in mind shag like a rhino on sex pills with cum on its dick and no condom. and my pussy is just wanting a huge cock to peirce a whole in it the size of a watermelon. do you know that i shaged with titanic dick shane deisel!!!

  • Rogue

    Matthew stop acting like a “wise man” you just a “wise guy”, people who think like you don’t understand humans are not destroying planet Earth it is not possible (unless you own or rent out The Death Star) and Nature will Always win even if we manage to take her to her knees, she will be back up after we gone and so history repeats.

    Feel free to correct me:)

  • :)

    i think that if this thing was alive i would like to shag this mofo like a blue whale nevermind a sperm whale!! man i want to have some sick hardcore mofo sex!!!! bareing in mind shag like a rhino on sex pills with cum on its dick and no condom. and my pussy is just wanting a huge cock to peirce a whole in it the size of a watermelon. do you know that i shaged with titanic dick shane deisel!!!Matthew stop acting like a “wise man” you just a “wise guy”, people who think like you don’t understand humans are not destroying planet Earth it is not possible (unless you own or rent out The Death Star) and Nature will Always win even if we manage to take her to her knees, she will be back up after we gone and so history repeats. Feel free to correct me
    In Conclusion the whale is demostrating mans destruction to planet earth and nothing more.

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