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Mar-08-2009 16:23printcomments

Dead Whale Leads to Closure of Oregon Beaches (VIDEO)

A chance to retell some explosive history regarding whales on the beach in Florence, Oregon.

KATU whale on beach blowing up
Florence Oregon - Nov. 12th, 1970 A dead whale lands on the beach, and has to be removed by the Oregon Highway Division. The OHD used dynamite. Courtesy: KATU

(FLORENCE, Ore.) - A dead whale on the beach has led to the closure of Oregon's Heceta Head State Scenic Viewpoint and the Devil's Elbow beach north of Florence, officials say, until further notice.

Chris Havel with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department says staff from his agency are working with biologists and law enforcement officials on the scene.

Havel says the closure is over concerns for traffic safety and the need to protect the carcass prompted the temporary closure.

I had to rib him just a little over the historic whale "blowing up" incident that happened on a Florence beach Nov. 12th, 1970.

A gentleman I used to shoot news with at the ABC station in Portland, Oregon; Don Stapleton, rolled the film when Oregon officials rigged a dead whale on the beach with dynamite and blew it sky high. Paul Linnman, who I also worked with at KATU, was the reporter on the scene.

But instead of dissipating into whale vapor, the blast sent chunks of whale flying in all directions and people running for cover. Cars were damaged and injuries from an explosion like this certainly would have been... a little hard to explain.

With a chuckle, Havel confirmed my silly question over whale disposal methods, by saying state officials "will not" blow the whale up with dynamite.

It was noted in Havel's news release that "Tampering with a whale carcass -- removing pieces or altering it in other ways -- is prohibited by federal law."

Altering a whale carcass? It is certainly sad and interesting that officials have to make that statement.

People do strange things. In fact, the state of Oregon has done some fairly strange things too, when considering that whale blowing up incident. The story is fantastic because as a reporter, Paul Linnman is fantastic.

Just for fun, here is the video from Don Stapleton and Paul Linnman of the whale blowing up. I know there were other KATU employees there that day; sorry to not be able to mention everyone by name. Please feel free to add comments with your memories of this day.

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as's Executive News Editor.
Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 in Afghanistan with Oregon troops. Tim recently returned from Iraq where he covered the war there while embedded with an Oregon Guard aviation unit. Serving the community in very real terms, is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated with Google News and several other major search engines and news aggregators.
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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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