WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A diver in South Africa miraculously survived almost being swallowed by a whale.
- Rainer Schimpf was snorkeling off the coast of Port Elizabeth, in South Africa, when Bryde’s whale opened his jaws and engulfed him headfirst.
- The 51-year-old said he was busy checking for sharks when the whale ‘swallowed him’ and felt pressure on his hips.
A dive tour operator has described has shared in a video how he managed to escape serious, maybe even fatal, injury after being almost swallowed by a Bryde’s whale.
Rainer Schimpf said he was preparing to take a video of a sardine run off the coast of Port Elizabeth, in South Africa, when he came into contact with the whale.
The 51-year-old marine conservationist said he was in the sea taking a clip of the sardine run for educational purposes when everything went dark all of a sudden.
“I was trying to get a shot of a shark going through the bait ball and then the next moment it got dark and I felt some pressure when I instantly knew, a whale had grabbed me,” the experienced photographer told Barcroft TV.
“I could feel the pressure on my hip, there is no time for fear in a situation like that—you have to use your instinct,” he continued.
Schimpf added that he held his breath, thinking the whale is going to dive down and release him in a much deeper area of the ocean. He described the inside of the whale as “pitch black.”
Another photographer, Heinz Toperczer, was able to capture the incident on camera.
“As Rainer moved towards the bait ball, suddenly the water churned widely up,” Toperczer said. “I knew for sure that something was about to happen so I held the focus of my camera on him firmly.”
“Suddenly, dolphins shot out of the water, a white spray came out and then a whale appeared and grabbed him.”
Schimpf described how lucky he was to have survived the incident in an interview with the Daily Mail.
“On our return in the evening Heinz checked his images and it was only once I saw them that I realized just how lucky I was to be looking at them,” Schimpf added.
“Seconds decide if you become prey, seconds decide your survival and seconds are all that counts.”
The incident lasted only in seconds before Schimpf was released by the whale. The whales, which can grow up to 55 feet and weigh around 30 tonnes, scoop up large quantities of food by simply opening its mouth near the surface and engulfing what it can, according to Newsweek.
Schimpf noted that the whale did not attack him on purpose and that the whales do not eat humans.
“It was going for the fish and I happened to be in the wrong spot,” he told the Telegraph. “I was collateral damage and I’m sure it was as frightening for the whale as it was for me.”