Watch Remastered Footage of Oregon Whale Exploding 50 Years After the Event

Footage of a 45-foot sperm whale being blown up with dynamite on an Oregon beach has been remastered and re-released 50 years after the event took place.

The dead whale had washed up on a beach near Florence in November, 1970. Weighing in at around eight tons, officials needed to find a way to dispose of the rotting flesh, eventually settling on the idea of exploding the carcass with dynamite.

The plan, from the Oregon Highway Division, came to fruition on November 12. KATU reporter Paul Linnman and cameraman Doug Brazil went to observe and recorded the explosion in what would become a viral video decades later.

To mark the 50th anniversary, the Oregon Historical Society commissioned the footage to be remastered. The original film, which was shot on 16mm color reversal motion picture film, was transferred by audiovisual experts, who scanned the footage at 4K resolution.

The full video can be viewed here.

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"As opposed to the degradation that happens with video tape from making a copy of a copy of a copy, the original 16mm film—what was shot that day on the beach—still projects a crisp image with bright vibrant colors," the society wrote in a blog post. "KATU donated the original 16mm footage to the Oregon Historical Society in the late 1980s."

According to the Oregon Historical Society, the footage came back into the public eye in the 1990s after a columnist from the Miami Herald mentioned it in a piece he wrote. Years later the film made its way onto the internet and was quickly shared, making it one of the first viral videos, the society said.

One copy of the video uploaded to YouTube 12 years ago has been viewed 3.2 million times.

Linnman and Brazil filmed the whale explosion from around a quarter of a mile from the carcass. Despite this distance, they were hit with bits of flesh from above.

"When the blubber started hitting the ground around us, we realized we weren't far enough away," Linnman wrote in his article about the event. "We were running away when we heard a second tremendous explosion in front of us. A piece of blubber the size of a coffee table hit the top of an Oldsmobile and completely flattened the roof."

Speaking in the news report, he said: "It might be concluded that should a whale ever was hashore in Lane County again, those in charge will not only remember what to do, they'll certainly remember what not to do."

Whales that wash ashore on Oregon beaches are now buried, but the 1970 event has become a feature of the state's history. In June, it was commemorated with the opening of the Exploding Whale Memorial Park. The name was chosen after city officials asked the public for suggestions. A shortlist of nine was then put to a public vote.

whale explosion
Image showing the whale exploding taken from the remastered video of the 1970 event. Oregon Historical Society/KATU