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Creation  Volume 24Issue 2 Cover

Creation 24(2):25–27
March 2002

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Whale explodes fossil theory

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Television images showed a new tourist attraction floating in the ocean off South Australia—a bloated whale corpse being eaten by dozens of Great White Sharks.1,2 The dead Southern Right Whale had drifted offshore for over a week and the sharks were ripping chunks of flesh from the carcass in a feeding frenzy.

Originally, it was thought that a large freighter killed the whale, but there were no visible signs of injury on the carcass—nothing to indicate that it died of anything other than natural causes.

Local charter-boat operators were thrilled with people lining up at Cape Jervis wharf, 90 km (55 miles) south of Adelaide, eager to pay for a closer look. Dozens of boats were busy for days going back and forth to the drifting whale. The regular ferry detoured to allow passengers a first-rate view. Some of the thousands of people who made the trip described the experience as ‘awesome’.

Reckless behaviour

The activities of the boat operators soon came to the attention of State authorities. Televised video footage, beamed around the world, showed male sightseers climbing onto the 15-m (50-ft) carcass. White Pointer Sharks were hungrily tearing its blubbery flesh and one of the men standing on the whale was seen holding a young child. Several people on the boats were filmed patting the snouts of the White Pointers as they circled and fed.

Next day, police crews from the water operations unit were monitoring the crowd behaviour. Some officials even suggested that laws might be changed ‘to protect people too stupid to protect themselves’.3

Worried officials, fearing the whale would become a hazard to shipping, or wash ashore causing an environmental crisis, enlisted the police bomb squad to sink it.4

They placed three explosive charges in the whale’s belly to blow holes in its side so it could fill with water. At the very least, the authorities hoped the explosives would accelerate its disposal. As one spokesman said, ‘It will give marine scavengers a better chance of doing what they do best, which is to clean up dead and decaying material in the ocean.’

The carcass was towed away from the coast out of the way of the shipping lanes, and the charges detonated. Media reports said that no-one was standing on the whale at the time. Official reports said the operation was entirely successful and the whale no longer presented a problem.

Later though, it was found that, in spite of detonating enough explosive to ‘knock a hole in a concrete wall’, the dead whale continued to bob around, refusing to sink.5 Instead of opening up holes that filled with water, the explosions only made a small dent. According to official sources, the attempt to sink the dead whale was a learning curve because such a procedure had never been tried in Australia before.

Contradicting theory

To alert observers, the whale episode dramatically contradicts the standard theory about how fossils form. Fossils, of course, are abundant on every continent, buried in sedimentary rock, even on high mountains. Remarkable fossil remains of many almost-complete animal skeletons have been excavated and displayed in museums all over the world.

whale

Figure 1

The standard theory about fossils is presented in museums, school and university text books, encyclopedias and popular nature books. For example, the National Dinosaur Museum, in Canberra, Australia, has a diagram at its entrance (Figure 1). The first picture shows a dead dinosaur, eyes closed, sinking in water. Upside down with legs pointing upwards, streams of tiny bubbles are shown floating to the surface as the animal descends. The next picture shows the dinosaur skeleton lying on the sandy bottom, waiting to be covered by sediment. The bones are not scattered but are correctly related with each other. The third picture shows the bones, still in their correct position, covered by a thick layer of sediment, while the final picture shows the fossilized bones exposed after the rock had been uplifted and eroded.

But the dead South Australian whale explodes this fossil theory. The whole saga vividly demonstrates that dead animals don’t immediately sink to the bottom of the ocean—they generally float on the surface. Anyone who has kept an aquarium would know that. It’s only after other marine creatures have substantially scavenged the corpse that it will sink.

Rapidly scavenged

Even when the remains eventually sink, the skeleton does not fossilize. Craig Smith of the University of Hawaii has been studying whale corpses on the bottom of the ocean for more than a decade.6 As a rule, there is not much food around on the deep ocean floor—it’s a bit like an underwater desert. So, when the remains of a whale arrive at the bottom, it signals feeding time for everything that lives down there.

For months the carcass is alive with scavengers.7,8 Hundreds of long, tendon-like hagfish curl in and out of every opening. Huge sharks feast on the softening flesh. Crabs are busy eating all they can. In as little as four months, the soft tissue can be stripped away, leaving a pile of bones. Furry worms and shrimp-like animals then multiply and consume the small fragments of tissue dispersed over the sea floor. After another year, the furry worms have gone and the bones are covered in mussels, clams, tubeworms and bacteria. Over ten or so years, the bones are slowly consumed until they disappear and the site is clean.

Clearly, dead animals will not fossilize in the ocean under normal circumstances. Their scattered bones do not lie around long enough to be covered by sediment. Special conditions are needed to form fossils, especially to preserve the bones in their correct orientation. The creature has to be buried quickly to protect it from marine scavengers.

However, we don’t find animals being rapidly buried in the oceans today. Well-preserved fossils point to catastrophe—to sudden death and burial before the animal was scavenged, scattered and obliterated. Well-preserved fossils are consistent with the unusual conditions associated with the global Flood of the Bible. At that time, huge torrents of water flowed across the continents, dumping tonnes of sand and silt into the oceans and burying fish and animals catastrophically. The dead whale off the coast of South Australia alerts us to the problems with the standard fossil theory. Noah’s Flood explains why so many fossils are found in sedimentary strata all over the Earth.

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References

  1. Hockley, C., Shark scene behaviour ‘appalling’, <www.theaustralian.news.com.au/printpage/0,5942,2418082,00.html>, 19 November 2001. Return to text.
  2. Littely, B., Whale of a feed, <finance.news. com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,2407788%5E421,00.html>, 19 November 2001. Return to text.
  3. Shark patting, whale walking may soon be outlawed,
    <www.usatoday.com/news/world/2001/07/24/sharkpatting.htm>, 19 November 2001. Return to text.
  4. The walkabout whale … thar she blows,
    <www.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/asiapcf/auspac/07/31/australia.whaleblast/>, 19 November 2001. Return to text.
  5. Debelle, P., Wrong way to remove a right whale, <www.smh.com.au/news/0108/01/national/nationa26.html>, 19 November 2001. Return to text.
  6. Oceanographers say dead whales provide deep-sea living legacy, <www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories/s377.htm>, 19 November 2001. Return to text.
  7. How to sink a whale, The Blue Planet, BBC Wildlife/Nikon Supplement, Bristol, pp. 18–19, September 2001. Return to text.
  8. Zeidner Russo, J., This whale’s (after) life, <newnos.nos.noaa.gov/nurp/whales.html>, 19 November 2001. Return to text.

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