back to article Unsung DEAD WHALE EXPLODER hero, who gave the early internet a purpose, passes away

The internet is mourning the sad death of George Thomas Thornton, the man who gained immortal fame for blowing up a dead whale on TV and so created what was probably the first truly viral video. The video of the infamous exploding whale. Thornton became famous when a video showing his rather ill-advised decision to get rid of …


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  1. jake Silver badge


    But the first viral videos were porn (often of suspect legality), on USENET, long before the 1990s.

    1. Grifter

      Re: RIP

      I think the point about viral was referring to the general population at large (or at least those with computers), who were not necessarily part of the usenet subset. Like me for example.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @Grifter (was: Re: RIP)

        Consider this option: "The population" is the people using the medium ...

  2. Monty Lovering

    That headline should read

    ... who gave the early internet a porpoise ...


  3. Not Fred31

    One can only hope....

    ... that he was given a funeral that echoed his life.

  4. Ian Emery Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    No bowl of petunias???

    Just wondering if this event inspired a certain Mr Adams

  5. ISYS

    WIth apologies to Vera Lynne

    Whale meat again,

    Don't know where,

    Don't know when.....

    A pint to his memory.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The hate mail on the Exploding Whale site ("you gay pig" and other epithets) made me laugh all those years ago; the senders didn't seem to appreciate that the whale was (long) dead when it was blown up.

  7. Cornholio

    It's a shame they didn't call Blaster Bates...

    ...I'd have loved to have heard him spin a yarn that.

  8. Peter Simpson 1

    I'm sure

    "it seemed like a good idea at the time..."

    And somebody has to be the first to try it.

    //RIP Mr. Thornton, and thanks for being a good sport about it.

  9. Mike Richards Silver badge

    A sad day

    This story circulated for years on bulletin boards and Usenet before it became a video sensation. All we had to go on was the original Dave Barry column, which begins:

    'I am absolutely not making this incident up; in fact I have it all on videotape. The tape is from a local TV news show in Oregon, which sent a reporter out to cover the removal of a 45-foot, eight-ton dead whale that washed up on the beach. The responsibility for getting rid of the carcass was placed upon the Oregon State Highway Division, apparently on the theory that highways and whales are very similar in the sense of being large objects.

    'So anyway, the highway engineers hit upon the plan — remember, I am not making this up — of blowing up the whale with dynamite. The thinking here was that the whale would be blown into small pieces, which would be eaten by sea gulls, and that would be that. A textbook whale removal.


    1. Jan 0

      Re: A sad day

      ObUsenet: Why was an Ambridge policeman writing about whales?

      ObArchers: Bring back Dave Barry and put some passion back into Cathy's life.

  10. Brian Miller

    A note about the fellow whose car roof was flattened by ballistic whale

    There was an explosives expert at hand. He told Mr. Thornton that he was using not enough dynamite to blow the whale into small bits, and the amount that he was using would send chunks all over. He was ignored, and it was his new car that got smacked with ballistic whale blubber.

  11. Euripides Pants Silver badge

    I wonder how Edgar K.B. Montrose would have handled it...

  12. Petrea Mitchell

    Don't forget the book

    The reporter on the scene later wrote his autobiography and gave the whale top billing:

    And if you think the state of Oregon learned its lesson about trying to get rid of large beach debris by blowing it up, look up the tale of the New Carissa.

  13. Zobbo

    Good times

    I remember downloading it off the fortean times website in the lates 90s. Took a long time but was worth it.

  14. Tom 11

    Very sad news

    Had me blubbering

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jeremy Clarkson was excited

    ... At the prospect of blowing up Wales.

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