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This Exploding Whale Tale Is A Surprisingly Perfect Analogy For The Importance Of Social Distancing

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Rachael Funnell

Social Editor and Staff Writer

clockApr 7 2020, 14:59 UTC
A sperm whale washed up in Indonesia, 2017. Riza Azhari/Shutterstock

A sperm whale washed up in Indonesia, 2017. Riza Azhari/Shutterstock

Since social distancing became the leading way that all citizens could help to fight the devastating outbreak of COVID-19, many scientists, doctors, artists, and animators have stepped forward to try and demonstrate – in the most relatable terms possible – how important this preventative method is. The SARS-CoV-2 pathogen, which is known to be craftier and nastier than the historic SARS coronavirus pathogen, stays silent for its first few days of incubation. This means that people who appear healthy can be walking around interacting with others and touching door handles, all the while shedding contagious viral particles as they go.

You might have seen the video of the line of lit matches that signifies the difference one person staying at home can make, or perhaps this 10-second gif that visualizes how quickly just a small group of people can quickly infect hundreds, but we think the UK's Doncaster Council social media team wins for the most relatable "this is why social distancing matters" approach yet. And yes, it involves a whale explosion.

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When whales die at sea, despite their immense size and weight, they float on the water as a myriad of delicious gasses builds up in their decaying corpses. As such, coastal towns often have to take steps to dispose of whale carcasses, be they at sea or washed up on beaches, to avoid lingering rotten smells and unexpected explosions. In November 1970, after a nearly 14-meter (45-foot) sperm whale washed up on the beach in Florence, Oregon, officials felt they had no choice but to stage an explosion to remove it and the results were... unfortunate. How does this relate to staying at home during the pandemic? We'll leave Doncaster Council to explain.

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If that's not quite enough exploding whale content for you for one day (can you ever have too much?) you can watch the spectacular disaster unfold in this wonderful video featuring News Anchors doing what News Anchors do best (special mention to the phrase "blast blasted blubber beyond believable bounds").

So, if you think you're above the social distancing guidelines for COVID-19, much like the "land blubber newsmen" in the above video, take heed. You might end up with something a lot worse than rotting whale meat on your face. 

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