Feeds

Unsung DEAD WHALE EXPLODER hero, who gave the early internet a purpose, passes away

When viral videos had IMPACT

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Obituary The internet is mourning the sad death of George Thomas Thornton, the man who gained immortal fame for blowing up a dead whale on TV and so created what was probably the first truly viral video.

The video of the infamous exploding whale.

Thornton became famous when a video showing his rather ill-advised decision to get rid of a stinking whale carcass with dynamite showed up on the internet and became an early hit. The exploding whale, instead of landing in the water as planned, is shown showering spectators, the beach and nearby parked cars with blubber and whale bits.

Thornton, who was a highway engineer, was landed with the job of getting rid of a dead whale back in 1970, when the Highway Division had jurisdiction over the beaches, according to the Associated Press. He figured that if the whale was towed out to sea, it could just wash back up again. Neither could they bury it on the beach as they wouldn't be able to get it deep enough to guarantee that the waves wouldn't just uncover it, so he decided to blow it up.

After consulting with the Navy and other munitions experts, Thornton and his crew set up dynamite on the landward side of the giant mammal, hoping to blow it up and out towards the sea. Instead, as seen in the video news report, spectators and reporters around a quarter of a mile away were covered in whale goo, while one massive chunk flattened the roof of a car.

The video was posted on a bulletin board in the 90s. Outraged viewers phoned in to the Oregon Department of Transportation to complain, not realising that the incident had happened twenty years earlier. The video has endured in cyberspace, getting uploaded to YouTube and ending up with its own website at theexplodingwhale.com.

These days, beached whales that can't be saved tend to be killed by lethal injection, necropsied and buried in the sand.

George Thomas Thornton died last Sunday at the age of 84. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Spanish village called 'Kill the Jews' mulls rebranding exercise
Not exactly attractive to the Israeli tourist demographic
Oz bank in comedy Heartbleed blog FAIL
Bank: 'We are now safely patched.' Customers: 'You were using OpenSSL?'
Happy 40th Playmobil: Reg looks back at small, rude world of our favourite tiny toys
Little men straddle LOHAN, attend tiny G20 Summit... ah, sweet memories...
Forget the beach 'n' boardwalk, check out the Santa Cruz STEVE JOBS FOUNTAIN
Reg reader snaps shot of touching tribute to Apple icon
Lego is the TOOL OF SATAN, thunders Polish priest
New minifigs like Monster Fighters are turning kids to the dark side
Dark SITH LORD 'Darth Vader' joins battle to rule, er, Ukraine
Only I can 'make an empire out of a republic' intones presidential candidate
Chinese company counters pollution by importing fresh air
Citizens line up for bags of that sweet, sweet mountain air
Google asks April Fools: Want a job? Be our 'Pokemon Master'
Mountain View is prankin' like it's 1999...
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.