September 2nd, 2010
11:16 AM ET

Exploding stranded whales often only 'humane' option

A healthy humpback whale jumping in the Pacific Ocean.

Explosives were reportedly used in Perth, Australia, to euthanize a terminally ill baby humpback whale that had been stranded for two weeks on the country's western coast. 

The whale, about 30 feet long, was given a "lethal explosion" to the brain, according to local news reports.

"It's ugly but it's also a fast and one of the few ways to euthanize a whale that's stranded and in distress for too long," said Ken Balcomb, the executive director and research biologist for the Center for Whale Research since 1985. The Center, located on the Pacific Northwest's San Juan Island, is nonpolitical.

Balcomb, who has euthanized several whales, said there are essentially two ways to end the mammal's life if there is no hope of healing it and freeing it. One can either exact a controlled explosion or cut the throat.

"If a whale has been in that spot for two weeks, you have to assume that its brain is not functioning, that it's in a twilight zone, and isn't really aware of what's happening," Balcomb said.

The longer a whale is out of water the more pressure builds on the mammal's organs, he said. "These are sad things, but they happen and the public should know that there's nothing else sometimes that can be done."

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Filed under: Australia • Environment
soundoff (158 Responses)
  1. MG

    All (esp. Wzrd1), thanks for the laugh! I needed that this morning, spilled coffee and all. 🙂

    September 3, 2010 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  2. Bladerunner

    So let me see if I got this straight....I got this funny looking hat with all of these wires strapped to my head, right? Next thing is Im gunna think about home back in the bay at Gulligan's I right so far? Then I click my fins together like this and......

    September 3, 2010 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  3. Texas Pete

    PETA is probably looking for a hitman right now.

    September 3, 2010 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  4. Canadian Jim

    Cue music from the Lion King....

    "It's the circle...the circle of life.....Boom!"

    Walt would be proud.

    September 3, 2010 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  5. jeff s

    here is what the whale was thinking....
    "i was just chillin onthe beach trying to get a tan then BOOM they exploded my head..."

    September 3, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  6. mancha elizabeth

    Humane? Says who? Humans?

    September 3, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  7. Lambo 25

    why doesn't our government do nothing but kill the stranded whales?

    September 3, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. SETY

    men are the only inhumane species, whales, being trespassed on in their own habitat would rather stay away from humans and have humans stay away from them, and most creatures would prefer no humans.

    November 29, 2013 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
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