Feeds

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

When viral videos had IMPACT

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

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. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
NSA man: 'Tell me about your Turkish connections'
Spooks ask Dabbsy to suggest a nice hotel with pool
Carlos: Slim your working week to just three days of toil
'Midas World' vision suggests you retire later, watch more tellie and buy more stuff
Motorist 'thought car had caught fire' as Adele track came on stereo
'FIRE' caption on dashboard prompts dunderheaded hard shoulder halt
Yahoo! Japan! launches! service! for! the! dead!
If you're reading this email, I am no longer alive
Plucky Rockall podule man back on (proper) dry land
Bold, barmy Brit adventurer Nick Hancock escapes North Atlantic islet
Russia sends SEX-CRAZED GECKOS to SPAAAAACE!
In space... no one can hear you're green...
Brit Rockall adventurer poised to quit islet
Occupation records broken, champagne corks popped
Accused! Yahoo! exec! SUES! her! accuser!, says! sex! harassment! never! happened!
Allegations were for 'financial gain', countersuit claims
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.