This hasn’t been a problem in Minnesota…

…but you never know. How do you get rid of tons of rotting meat, like a beached whale carcass? The article lists four methods:

  1. Blow it up with dynamite. No, don’t do this one. Florence, Oregon tried it in 1970, and will never, ever live it down.

  2. Compost it. Drag it to some convenient place and let it decay. Yikes, that’s going to wreck the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio in your compost heap, but OK, it’s a natural way.

  3. Drag it back out to sea and let it sink. This seems like the best way to me, since whale falls are great boons to marine invertebrates. The catch is that it might take a while to sink, and could drift back to shore.

  4. Treat it like garbage, hack it to bits, and bury it in a landfill. Seems wasteful.

So what would Minnesotans do? They can’t drag it out to sea. I guess we could haul it to Iowa or Wisconsin or the Dakotas and let them deal with it. Otherwise, chain saws and wood chippers?


  1. cartomancer says

    Elect it president and have the CIA drag it off to Washington, where it’ll be their problem now?

  2. Reginald Selkirk says

    I know a museum that wanted a whale skeleton. When a beached dead whale turned up, they buried it for a couple years, then retrieved the bones.

  3. davidnangle says

    The carcass can be divvied up and sold to reality shows for their various gross-out challenges, stinky jobs, and team punishments. This could also spawn a new series: Whale Reality Carcass Transportation Pilots.

  4. Ice Swimmer says

    I take it that it’s dangerous and difficult to try to cut open the body cavities and puncture the lungs and the stomach of the whale carcass when it has been towed to the open sea?

  5. lumipuna says

    A whale carcass in Minnesota prairie sounds like some accident with Infinite Improbability Drive. Look for a random bowl of petunias.

  6. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Just pointing out that 1600 Penn. Ave. in DC is not far from the Potomac, which is navigable down to where it empties into the Chesapeake. Let’s see if they deal with it once they realize they have a bloated, orange whale carcass.

  7. Raucous Indignation says

    Not Wisconsin;I still have hope for Wisconsin. Not the Dakotas. As much as they deserve it, Caine lives there. That leaves Iowa. Yeah, Iowa. Definitely Iowa.

  8. Ragutis says

    YouTube leads me to believe that whales have a tendency to blow up on their own. That said, mulching into fertilizer or sinking offshore seem (to me) the truest ways of fulfilling their role in the ecosystem (outside of the arctic. Polar bears are having to rely on the random washed up whale carcass more and more to survive as the sea ice diminishes.)

  9. Ragutis says

    Should have mentioned this in the previous post, a whale washed up in Juno Beach (FL) a ways back.(40 years ago? Shit, I’m old.) I remember walking south down the beach a ways past the pier to see it every day. Somewhere in my parents’ suitcase of photos is likely one of a 7 or 8 year old me standing next to it. In the end they just buried it. IIRC, several years later they exhumed and donated the skeleton to a Uni or museum.

  10. jrkrideau says

    Oh, for heaven’s sake, it’s only a tiny, little, 36-foot-long gray whale.

    @ 4 Reginald Selkirk
    Is this the whale you were thinking of?
    Lollipop, the Blue Whale, was 23.3 metres long (that’s 76.5 feet in archaic units). Her skull was 9m (30 feet) long.

    The exhibit at the Royal Ontario museum is rather good. Definitely worth a visit if you are in Toronto or the vicinity.

  11. microraptor says

    I actually met the son of the guy who’s car was destroyed by falling whale chunks when the whale in Florence was blown up.

  12. says

    Trebuchet to launch it into Lake Superior.

    Or just drag it out into the lake and let it sink. Preferably with cameras to see how lakebed fauna react to the sudden appearance of a whale carcass.

  13. blf says

    Trebuchet? Trebuchet! Did someone mention a trebuchet… The mildly deranged penguin is now eagerly looking through her collection of trebuchets — normally used to teach kitties how to land in the Mediterranean — for one suitable for landing a large dead whale on Wacko House. She warns it may take a few tries before there is a direct hit on the Oranged Office, but assumes the occasional inhabitant will call the reports of a local fall of whales FAKE News! whilst insisting a high wall will solve the problem.

  14. Andrew Dalke says

    Cut it into bits, jar the bits along with some lye, wait at least 12 months, and eat as a holiday treat.

  15. says

    #3 seems the best solution. Give the carcass back to the sea that already has a claim on it, so to speak.


    The catch is that it might take a while to sink, and could drift back to shore.

    Explode it with dynamite at sea then.

  16. ealloc says

    I’m currently reading Moby Dick. Recommendations from the book:

    * Eat it. Stubb, the second mate, is intemperately fond of it, but it must be cooked the right way: Hold the steak in one hand, and show a live coal to it with the other; that done, dish it; d’ye hear?

    * Leave it to the sharks. Incalculable hosts of sharks will gather round the carcase, as if whole round sea was one huge cheese, and those sharks the maggots in it, each trying to scoop out huge globular pieces of the whale of the bigness of a human head. Careful as you wade alongside the whale – it’s usually enough to push the sharks aside with your feet as you go, though their wondrous voracity can be at times considerably diminished by vigorously stirring them up with sharp whaling-spades.

  17. davidc1 says

    @16 I wonder what the guy put on his insurance claim form ?
    I also wonder how many people knew about this before the interweb ?

  18. billyjoe says

    Most whales beach in remote locations and are just left to rot, a process that takes several months. The small percentage that turn up on popular beaches or in populated areas are generally buried under ten foot of sand requiring bulldozing a hole about twenty feet deep. To pull the carcass out to sea costs thousands of dollars and knowledge of ocean currents is required to prevent them from floating back. All other options are too risky and/or too costly and/or ineffective.

  19. says

    Someone in the comments of that article suggested dragging them all into one big bone pile in Alaska to create a sub-species of scavenger polar bears.

    This sounds like serious potential for some mad science shit, so I’m on board.

  20. anbheal says

    @22 ealloc — that’s exactly right. A large Right Whale was lying dead in the water off Cuttyhunk a few years back, and dozens of boats came out every day to see the spectacle of hundreds of sharks, some quite large, including great whites, ripping chunks off. It lasted for 6 or 8 days, the shark feeding frenzy

    Probably the safest week for Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound seals in their lives.

  21. Callinectes says

    I’d strip the flesh and use the skeleton to decorate the local oceanography institute.

    But only because I do not presently have room for one in my own home.

  22. blf says

    But only because I do not presently have room for one in my own home.

    So where then are you going to put the stripped rotting flesh?

  23. kaleberg says

    We actually had this problem maybe ten years ago. A whale carcass had washed up on the beach where we owned a plot of land. We and our neighbors all had a lot of ideas as to what to do with it. The problem was that no one had jurisdiction. The beach was in the US on a navigable international waterway, The Strait of San Juan de Fuca. It was on the US side, so that meant it was a US federal whale carcass. That ruled out the state and county. It was outside the national park and national forest. It was on the beach, not in the water, so that ruled out the coast guard. It was a whale, not a human, so that ruled out the border patrol. It was a federally protected animal, so that ruled out any private party.

    There was, however, one entity which could deal with it, the Makah tribe. They are based at the far end of the peninsula and have long maintained their right to hunt whales as per treaty. Some years back they had proposed a whale hunt. There were protests. The national guard was called out to keep a lid on things. Then they went out in canoes and hunted for whales. They didn’t catch any, but they made their point. They still had the right to hunt for whales. They had jurisdiction, and no one was going to argue with them. They towed the carcass off the beach and out to tribal land where they butchered it for the meat – it was still pretty fresh – the bones and so on.

    As you can imagine the Makah have enemies on the left and right. The left dislikes them because they hunt whales. The right dislikes them because they are native Americans and can crack immigrant jokes about “those people” on the Mayflower. Our local newspaper has a rants and raves column. We made a point of sending in a rave.