Sunday, 28 February 2010

Sperm Count

A few weeks ago a 30 foot sperm whale washed up on the Northumberland coast.  I wasn't able to get up to see it for myself but it caused plenty of media interest.  This is only the second sperm whale to wash up on our shores in recent memory and a friend of mine recalled the last one - in 1973 at Boulmer.  This prompted me to go and look up the newspaper reports of the time and they turned out to be highly entertaining. 

The Boulmer sperm whale was bigger at about 41 feet in length and caused quite a stir.  They reckoned this one weighed over 50 tons and so you can imagine the headache of trying to get rid of it.  Local officials tried pet food companies and the like all over the country but no-one wanted it.  Meanwhile the whale was beginning to get a bit wiffy so, under pressure to do something about it, the local Chief Public Health Inspector contacted his mate at a nearby quarry and two shot-firers were duly dispatched to blow it into manegeable bits with gelignite.

All was set up, the klaxon sounded and ... kerboom!  But the whale just shuddered a bit and stayed put - all except a 1 cwt lump of blubber which shot over the heads of the waiting police and council officials and thumped into the cliff behind them.  The explosives idea was abandoned after that but the Boulmer UFO (Unidentified Flying Offal) has entered folk lore.


  1. Great story...I can just imagine the anticipation:-)

  2. Hi Helen. You couldn't make it up could you! It would be great if somebody somewhere had it on film but I suppose that's unlikely now.
    Thanks for tuning in.