Whale's ability to swallow a human (Jonah)

From: Greg Early (gearly1@earthlink.net)
Date: Mon Jun 02 2003 - 16:05:58 EDT

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    -----Original Message-----
    From: Connie [SMTP:cspr@shaw.ca]
    Sent: Monday, June 02, 2003 9:33 AM
    To: gearly1@earthlink.net; pita@whale.wheelock.edu
    Subject: Whale's ability to swallow a human

    Would you be able to confirm whether it would have been possible or a human
    (Johan) to be swallowed by a whale and survive and then be releashed?

    Thank you for answering this question.

    Connie
    cspr@shaw.ca
     << File: ATT00000.htm >>

    Connie,

    Possible leaves a lot of room in this question but here are a few things
    that scientists (and historians) think. Most of the large whales (the ones
    with Baleen) have a throat that would make it pretty much impossible for
    them to swallow something as large as a man. After all, these whales
    basically eat small fish and schooling bits of prey. The only large whale
    that has a throat that would be large enough to make it possible (and one
    that has been known to swallow things about as large as a man) would be a
    sperm whale.

    If you think about what goes on inside a whales stomach (mostly giant squid
    get digested), it would tend to make you doubt that anyone that was
    swallowed would last too long in there. But, one way to look at it would
    be to see if there were any other stories of humans that had been swallowed
    by a whale and survived. In fact there was a man, James Bartley, from
    Britain in the late 1800s, who claimed that he was working on a whale ship,
    fell overboard and was swallowed by a whale. The following day, he said,
    he was cut from the whales stomach, after it had been killed by another
    whaleboat. Bartley even went of a tour (sort of like the 1800s talk show
    circuit) and told his story to people. The trouble is that although
    Bartley looked rather strange (he was said to have been bleached white and
    lost all of his hair from being inside the whale), there was no proof that
    his story ever really happened. Even the Captain of the ship he was
    supposed to be on, did not remember the event, or make a note of it in the
    ships log. And you would think something like that ... you would remember,
    and write down. So historians sort of doubt that this really happened at
    all.

    So is it possible that a whale could swallow a man? One type of whale,
    maybe. Would that person survive? There is no proof that anyone would (or
    has) other than Jonah. You would think that it would take a miracle ...and
    maybe that is what the story of Jonah is about.

    ge



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