The infamous exploding whale incident of 1970 sounds like an urban legend, internet hoax or at least an isolated incident – it isn’t any of these. In addition to that particular (intentionally detonated) whale other spontaneous whale explosions have been documented since. And whales aren’t the only animals to explode intentionally, accidentally or naturally: there have been mass unexplained explosions of toads, cases of ants that self-detonate as a defense mechanism and even instances of humans exploding, both dead and alive, not to mention unfortunate dogs and bats forced into service during wartime as suicide sappers.
In 1970 a dead sperm whale on a beach in Oregon was blown up with dynamite in an attempt to get rid of the decomposing corpse. Part of the organic debris landing on and destroyed the roof of a nearby car. The entire incident was caught on film and numerous onlookers were covered with whale particles. In 2004 a dead whale being transported on a truck spontaneously exploded due to internal pressures and built-up methane gasses within the body. These incidents have been widely documented, reported and even spoofed by such periodicals as The Onion.
(Images via Vestal Design and Randy Emmitt)
In 2005 reports began to come in that hundreds, possibly thousands, of toads were exploding in Hamburg, Germany. While it was not entirely clear what the causes were it was strongly suspected that the frogs, once attacked by birds, were puffing up to defend themselves – only to burst in the process. Another theory is that the toads were self-selecting to reduce their own populations or that they had contracted some kind of virus. At least one species of ant is known to use self-detonation as a defense mechanism, explosively spraying its opponents with poison as it violently perishes.
(Images via National Archives and Wikipedia)
Now, humans exploding is a relatively rare phenomenon but it has been known to happen. King William the First exploded violently after a delay in his burial allowed for advanced decay before he could be entombed. More recently a number of divers died due to the explosive decompression of their diving chamber. One of the unfortunate victims violently exploded, which you can read about in gruesome detail if you wish.
(Image via Wikipedia)
Animals have also been intentionally sent into harm’s way during wartime to damange enemy equiptment and inflict casualities. Examples include dogs in China being strapped with incindiary devices to burn down enemy camps and dogs in World War II being trained to seek out and detonate upon contact with enemy tanks. Bats were also trained to infiltrate Japanese buildings, roost and subsequently explode.