Attempt At Removing A Dead Whale From A Beach Goes Horribly, Horribly Wrong


Jonathan O'Callaghan

Senior Staff Writer


Fishing nets have been blamed for the deaths of some minke whales. DejaVuDesigns/Shutterstock

Footage has captured the horrific moment workers failed to get a dead minke whale to fit in a dumpster.

The event happened on Monday, September 17, in Jenness State Beach in New Hampshire. It had washed ashore on Monday morning, with the Seacoast Science Center’s Marine Mammal Rescue Team deciding to take its remains to be studied and composted.


It’s unclear how the whale died, possibly from getting tangled in fishing gear, so biologists wanted to take a closer look to try and prevent other minke whale deaths in the area. More than a dozen dead minke whales have washed up on the Atlantic coast since January 2017.

But as reported by the local Union Leader, the first attempt to do this didn’t go so well. A worker tried to haul the animal, 5 meters (16 feet) long, into a dumpster with a loader – but the whale flopped out onto the ground of the parking lot when it wouldn’t fit.

“The removal process took a bad turn when the operator of the front end loader lowered the whale to drop it into the dumpster and it slid off the side and landed in the parking lot because it was too large,” the Union Leader noted.


The problem was blamed on the correct measurements not being given when the dumpster was ordered. They’d hoped the whale would fit diagonally, notes the Boston Globe, but that unfortunately was not the case as the loader couldn’t turn sufficiently.


“They gave it a good shot, with the hand that they were dealt,” Ashley Stokes, marine mammal rescue manager for the Seacoast Science Center, told the Globe. “Lesson learned: we need to specify the exact size dumpster needed, rather [than] just saying that a dumpster is needed that can fit a whale.”

Until a new dumpster could be brought in the following day, the whale had to be left covered up overnight in the parking lot with barricades placed around it. On Tuesday, a larger dumpster arrived, and the whale could be taken away to be examined by marine biologists.

Using a dumpster might seem inhumane, but it’s actually the best way to transport a dead whale, as it stops fluids leaking away. Other methods are decidedly more messy. Gizmodo described an event on November 12, 1970, in Oregon, when the Oregon Department of Transportation tried to use dynamite to get rid of a sperm whale. But they overestimated how much dynamite they needed, sending chunks of the animal flying through the air and splattering nearby onlookers. Yes there is footage. So residents of New Hampshire can count themselves lucky things weren't this bad.


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