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History

Oregon's Famous Exploding Whale Tale, 50 Years Later

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A report by KATU-TV on officials' decision to blow up an 8-ton dead whale on an Oregon beach in 1970 went on to become an early viral video.

Thursday marks the golden anniversary of one of the oddest incidents in Oregon history: the explosion of a dead whale in Florence, on the central coast.  The journalist who covered the story is still talking about it 50 years later.

Paul Linnman was a 23-year-old reporter for KATU-Channel 2 in Portland when he was sent to Florence to cover the deliberate detonation of a dead, beached sperm whale. When the blubber blew, chunks flew…and Linnmann and the whale are still genuine blasts from the past…thanks to social media and the internet.

“The BBC in particular has loved the story," Linnman told KLCC.  "I don’t know how many times I’ve been interviewed by the BBC in London about the whale.  (laughs)

"It just has a way of capturing people’s attention, and if I find out you haven’t seen it, I want you to see it and you’ll do the same with the people you know.”  

Linnman adds no one was hurt in the blast, which keeps it a fun fish tale.  He’ll talk about the incident in a free ZOOM talk presented by the Oregon Historical Society Thursday night.

Copyright 2020, KLCC.