In Florence, Oregon, on November 9, 1970, the Oregon Highway Department was tasked with removing a 45-foot, eight-ton sperm whale that had washed ashore and become a public nuisance because of the smell of decay. The job of removing the dead whale fell to highway engineer, George Thornton, who along with his team and in consultation with the Navy, decided the best way to remove the whale was to blow it up and have the remaining pieces be eaten by seagulls, crabs, and other scavenging animals.
Somehow, in the highway department’s calculations, it was determined that a half-ton ton of dynamite would be sufficient to blow up the whale into bite-size pieces. An Army expert with explosive training was at the beach that day and warned Thornton that too much dynamite was being used to do the job. Still, the half-ton of dynamite was buried under the decaying whale on the shore-side of the carcass in hopes of blowing it up and sending it into the ocean.