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My name is Jonah; diver almost swallowed by whale shark

by Brad A. Greenberg

August 14, 2011 | 3:10 pm

I got pretty caught up in Shark Week earlier this month, and in the process I saw some pretty gruesome images. But I must have missed the segment about whale sharks.

These sharks grow to be more than 40 feet in length. But they don’t have the rows of spearhead teeth like the much smaller Great White shark. Far as I can tell, they just suck their food into their bellies.

Billionaire Richard Branson claims he recently swam into the mouth of one of these giant fishes. And this story has an incredible picture of a diver almost being swallowed up. (Check it.) All this got me wondering whether it was in fact the belly of a whale shark that Jonah spent three days inside.

The answer: Likely not.

As for the whale shark, Dr. E. W. Gudger, an Honorary Associate in Ichthyology at the American Museum of Natural History, noted that “while the mouth is cavernous, the throat itself is only four inches wide and has a sharp elbow or bend behind the opening. This gullet would not permit the passage of a man’s arm”[citation needed]. In another publication he also noted that “the whale shark is not the fish that swallowed Jonah.”

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