Good morning world! The leaves are all coming out on the trees, turning spring into early summer. It makes me want to take a trip to the beach!
Speaking of beaches…Did Noah have marine animals on the ark too?
The answer is no! Genesis 7:14-15 and 21-23 states only birds and land-dwelling, air-breathing (through nostrils) animals were on the ark. Well then Willow, you may be asking, how did the ocean animals survive a deluge of fresh water, and contrarily how did the fresh water critters survive when the seas overflowed their boundaries.
It is true, as the water covered the earth, fresh and salt waters would have mixed into a diluted solution of both. However, there are several things to take into consideration:
First, it is not known exactly how salty pre-flood oceans were. We do know, though, from scripture that there was a “breaking up of the fountains of the great deep”. We can also be confident the flood was associated with immense plate tectonic movements that would result in massive volcanic activity. Underwater volcanoes or fissures would create enormous amounts of hot/boiling water/steam, which in turn would dissolve minerals adding salts to the waters.
Second, erosion as the water receded over the newly formed landmasses would also have carried minerals, including salt, into the water.
So, with this information in mind, we can draw the logical conclusion that pre-flood oceans were not as salty as our current oceans are. So why can’t fish go from fresh to salt water and visa versa today? Well, who says they can’t? All fish have a certain amount of salt in their bodies (just like us). Fresh water fish tend to absorb water through their cell walls (osmosis) because they have more salt in their bodies than the surrounding water. Saltwater fish, on the other hand, tend to lose water from their bodies for exactly the opposite reason.
It would be just like God to have placed in the genes of marine and fresh water creatures alike the ability to adapt to different conditions. We actually see examples of this in many of today’s organisms.
For example, there are creatures such as starfish and barnacles as well as other esuarine tidepool species that survive changes in salinity on a daily basis.
There are many species of fish that migrate between salt and fresh waters, such as salmon, striped bass, Atlantic sturgeon and eels. This demonstrates the capacity of many extant species of today to adjust to both salt and fresh water. “There is also evidence of post-flood specialization within a kind (a biblical biological classification) of fish. For example, the Atlantic sturgeon is a migratory salt/freshwater species but the Siberian sturgeon (a different species of the same kind) lives only in fresh water.”
In addition, a discovery in Scotland occurred when wild fresh water trout were breed with farmed saltwater salmon producing viable young. This implies the differences between freshwater and saltwater species may be slight indeed.
As a matter of fact, there are many families - a biological classification - of fish that include marine and freshwater species. The following is a partial list:
Toad fish garpike bowfin sturgeon
catfish flatfish salmon/trout/pike
Clingfish stickleback scorpionfish
And, get this, more families of extant fish contain representatives of both fresh and saltwater fish than not! So what does all of this mean? “This suggests that the ability to tolerate large changes in salinity was present in most fish at the time of the flood. Specialization, through natural selection, may have resulted in the loss of this ability in many species since then…”
And what of those species that haven’t lost the ability to switch between waters of different salinity? Two different things are known. One, freshwater species expel excess water with a low salt concentration in their urine. Marine species expel excess salt with a high salt concentration in their urine. And two, the amount of urea (a chemical compound), an animal retains plays a role in salinity tolerance. For example, freshwater sharks have low concentrations of urea in their blood (to avoid accumulating water), while saltwater sharks have high concentrations of urea in their blood (to retain water).
Even more interesting, is many public aquariums use the ability of fish to adapt to their environment by changing the salinity in an aquarium slowly. Thus they can exhibit fresh water and marine species together. The fascinating point is that many species “have the capacity to adapt to both fresh and salt water within their own lifetimes.”
Ok, that explains fish, but what about dolphins, whales, plesiosaurs and the like? Actually, they and those like them would have had an easier time adapting in one regard - they are not dependent on getting their oxygen from clean water. During the deluge and breaking forth of the fountain of the deep, the waters would have been turbulent, and the geological record tells us, was full of sediment. This would not have affected the aquatic air-breathing animals. As far as the salinity, their presence today suggests similar adaptability as the fish kinds.
Many marine animals would have perished in the Noachian flood. “The fossil record testifies to the massive destruction of marine life, with marine creatures accounting for ninety five percent of the fossil record.”
But those that did survive did so because God gave them the means from the very beginning; during creation. What a wise Creator we have!
Until next week, God bless and take care-
Ham, ken, et. al., The Revised & Expanded Answers Book, 3/2000, Masterbooks, Inc., pp. 187-189