Diver survives being grabbed by whale

Sorry to Baleen On You: Whale Almost Swallows South African Diving Tour Operator

Sorry to Baleen On You: Whale Almost Swallows South African Diving Tour Operator

"There is not time for fear in a situation like that, you'll have to use your instinct", Schimpf said. "I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you".

"I held my breath because I thought he is going to dive down and release me much deeper in the ocean", explained Schimpf, adding: "It was pitch black inside".

Schimpf had been snorkelling with two colleagues off the coast of Port Elizabeth.

In ideal sea conditions, Rainer and his team set off to document a sardine run; a natural event where gannets, penguins, seals, dolphins, whales and sharks work together to gather the fish into bait balls.

Keen to get the best shots, he plunged into the centre of a swirling bait ball - but when the sea suddenly churned, the group realised that something unusual was happening.

One minute he was snorkeling; the next, he had been scooped up by a whale. In that split second Schimpf found himself wedged, head first, inside the mammal's mouth.

Rainer Schimpf, 51, has worked as a dive tour operator in South Africa for over 15 years. I knew instantly that a whale had caught me, "the diver told Barcroft TV".

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Luckily for Mr Schimpf, Bryde's whales aren't known for eating humans and it just spat him back out.

Heinz Toperczer, another photographer on a nearby boat was able to capture the awesome footage of the terrifying encounter that has since been posted to Youtube.

"Whales are no man-eaters - so this was really an accident, they are gentle giants", Schimpf said.

"Pick me up and throw me into the sea", Jonah said in the famous Biblical narrative, "and it will become calm".

Despite the beast's impressive size, Bryde's whales mainly feed on tiny ocean creatures like krill. "It was an interesting experience, but certainly nothing I want to do again".

"Nothing can actually prepare you for the event when you end up inside the whale", Schimpf told News.com.au about the weird experience, "and then it's pure instinct".

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