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In the late winter of 1891, the whale-ship ’Star of the East’ was in the area of the Falkland Islands when it sighted a whale. Two boats were sent out with harpoons to catch and kill the creature. But the whale’s lashing tail overturned one of the boats spilling the crew into the sea. All were finally hauled back on board ship except for one sailor, James Bartley.


The whale was eventually killed and its body drawn aboard the ship to begin the process of stripping its valuable resources. By the next day good progress had been made in removing the layers of blubber, so a tackle was attached to its stomach to hoist it onto the deck. The sailors were startled by what appeared to be signs of life inside the stomach lining. Cutting the whale open the sailors found the missing James Bartley!


Bartley was quite insane for two weeks, but when he recovered his senses he told what he remembered of being dragged under the water. Whilst struggling for his life he had been drawn into darkness and felt a terrible and oppressive heat. Reaching out his hand he felt slimy walls that gave slightly to his touch, but he couldn’t find any exit. When it finally dawned on him what most likely had happened he lost his senses and lapsed into a catatonic state.


During his time inside the whale Bartley’s face, neck and hands were bleached deathly white by gastric juices and the texture of his skin was like parchment. He never recovered from this effect. Bartley believed that he would have likely lived inside the whale until he starved to death, as he did not find breathing a problem.


Great story! But is it true? Reports do suggest that this whole story is nothing more than an early urban legend. But whether it’s true or not, we know that there has been at least one man in the world who has truly gone through such an amazing experience and lived – and that man is Jonah!

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