Here's How to Survive Being Accidentally Swallowed by a Whale

This video looks into the likelihood of being swallowed up in the first place as well as breaking down your chances of survival should you be swallowed whole.
Shelby Rogers

From the biblical figure of Jonah to the fairytale of Pinnochio, people getting swallowed by whales is a story most of the world has heard before. Sure, the chances of that happening are infinitesimally small.

But -- if it did happen -- how would someone survive in a whale's stomach?

That's the question the team at The Infographics Show on YouTube set out to answer in a recent video.

The first step in figuring out how to survive is to look at someone's chances of getting swallowed in the first place. The Infographics Show team makes the assumption that the whale in question would be the largest whales on earth: the blue whale. Blue whales can average up to 100 feet in length and weigh up to 400,000 pounds. Research suggests that the mouth of a blue whale can fit you and 400 of your friends. 

Sperm whales could also be a possibility, as they're the biggest of the teethed whales. (There's a reason Captain Ahab struggled against Moby Dick, the video points out.) Sperm whales can reach up to 68 feet in length and over 112 pounds. 

Regardless of whale type, however, is being swallowed possible? Has it happened before? The video references the story of James Bartley, the "modern Jonah," who claimed to be swallowed in 1891. The whale died and the man was found by whalers to be inside the stomach. British newspapers circulated the news, but countless others involved with the ship claimed the sailor just told a great "sea yarn.'

While there's no question whether a human could fit in a whale's mouth, what happens after being swallowed -- from a more scientific perspective? Several researchers noted it's impossible for the average human to fit down a blue whale's esophagus.

Toothy whales, however, are a different story as they're used to swallowing much larger prey. If you manage to survive the teeth chomping down on your body, you'd then have to deal with enzymes breaking down your tissue. From there you'd enter one of four stomach chambers. Don't expect to live long; the chambers are filled with nothing but methane gas. 

So, how does one survive being swallowed by a whale? You don't. 

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