Beached Whale Found in Utah – Fiction!

Beached Whale Found in Utah – Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

A dairy farmer in Utah found a whale carcass in a field near Great Salt Lake.

The Truth:

The claim that a humpback whale carcass was found in Utah is false.

The story was reported by the World News Daily Report, a fake news website that publishes stories with “incomplete information, inaccuracies or typographical errors” in an effort to entertain readers:

“A dairy farmer from a small town near the Great Salt Lake in Utah made an incredible discovery on his property while he was looking for one of his cows that had not returned. 69-year-old Michael Woodson found a 12-meter long humpback whale lying lifeless in the middle of one of his fields, hundreds of kilometers away from its natural habitat.”

The eRumor has fueled a number of conspiracy theories, including speculation that UFOs dropped the whale into the field. A number of concerned residents contacted local authorities after hearing reports about the mysterious whale, the Salt Lake Tribune reports:

“A Davis Count dispatcher confirmed to the Salt Lake Tribune that, no, there was no whale — but they did receive a bunch of calls from people who saw the story.”

The photo that accompanied the eRumor, however, does show a whale carcass that appeared in a field under unusual circumstances. In 2011, the 33-foot whale was found beached about 800 yards from the Humber Estuary shoreline in East Yorkshire, England, the Daily Mail reports:

“The 33-foot mammal, thought to be a Sei whale, was discovered in marshes on the north bank of the River Humber near the village of Skeffling. As the tide retreated the whale became stranded before rolling over onto its blowhole, causing it to suffocate. The highest tides of the year occur after the spring and autumn equinox.”