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Diver Gets Swallowed Into A Whale's Mouth And Then Spit Back Out

Clark Sparky 8 Mar 2019

A South African dive instructor had a very close encounter with a whale and thankfully lived to tell about it.

A Normal Day

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Rainer Schimpf is a 51-year-old who has worked as a dive tour operator in South Africa for 15 years. A perfect day in February, him and his team set out on the ocean to document a sardine run.

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Sardine Run

Giphy | Nature on PBS

A sardine run is a great opportunity to film marine life as gannets, penguins, seals, dolphins, whales, and sharks all work together to push sardines into giant bait balls on which they can feed.

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Something Abnormal

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Schimpf's group split into two teams and headed about 25 miles offshore to film the event for educational purposes. Schimpf was in the ocean when he felt the sea suddenly churning up and realized there was something abnormal going on.

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Feeling Pressure

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He explained what happened next:

“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.”

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A Whale Grabbed him

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“I instantly knew, a whale had grabbed me. 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.”

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Caught On Camera

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Photographer Heinz Toperczer was part of the team still aboard the boat. He captured the whole thing on camera.

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Something Was About To Happen

Unsplash | Alain Rieder

The photographer explained:

“As Rainer moved towards the bait ball, suddenly the water churned widely up, and 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!”

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Instincts

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Schimpf said his natural instincts kicked in because there's no way to train for this situation:

“Nothing can actually prepare you for the event when you end up inside the whale – it’s pure instinct."

“I held my breath because I thought he is going to dive down and release me much deeper in the ocean, it was pitch black inside,”

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Could've Been Fatal

He knew that this situation could turn fatal one of two ways: The whale could swallow him, or the whale could swim off with Schimpf still in his mouth. Thankfully, the whale quickly realized the human wasn't too his liking and spit him back out.

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Gentle Giant

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It was a Bryde's Whale that had snatched Schimpf, a mammal that can grow up to 55 feet long and weigh up to 60,000 pounds. It was just a big misunderstanding, however:

“Whales are no man-eaters – so this was really an accident, they are gentle giant."

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Laugh About It

Giphy

After being safely back on shore, he was able to joke about this extremely rare experience:

“I don’t think I had a ‘whale’ of a time, but I have the inside knowledge of what a whale is like."

“It was an interesting experience, but certainly nothing I want to do again.”

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People have been quick to respond to this seemingly tall tale, and express how lucky this diver was.

He was lucky it wasn't a more aggressive animal.

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A Resume Builder

Others thought it was quite the achievement, and so the diver should add this event to their CV!

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Modern Day Jonah

Obviously, this story has a biblical feel to it — some were quick to point out just how much this story resembles Jonah's story in the Bible!

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