[Coral-List] RE: Decomposition of Human bones Underwater?

Greg Hawken hawko at midcoast.com.au
Mon Jan 31 03:42:59 EST 2005


I have a question I am hoping someone will be able to assist me with.

Recently, I dived on the SS Yongala off Townsville, Australia. The Yongala went down in 1911 with 121 persons on board all perishing. It rests in 30m of water on a sandy bottom  approx 11 miles off Cape Bowling Green and was not discovered until 1958.

My question relates to the decomposition of human bones underwater. I have seen photographs of skulls inside this wreck taken in the late 1980's and on this dive I did, we could see a femur inside one of the holds.

After nearly 100 years why haven't these bones become overgrown with marine life and been bio-eroded, or decomposed? My students will be asking these questions shortly, and at present I have only a few hunches. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.


Greg Hawken
Marine Studies Department
John Paul College, Coffs Harbour,

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