For nearly fifteen years, South African diver Rainer Schimpf has been documenting an extraordinary ecological phenomenon called the "sardine run", when billions of fish spawn in the cool waters of the Agulhas Bank and move northward along the east coast of South Africa, bringing with them a plethora of hungry predators seeking after an easy meal.
However, Schmipf seems in high spirits about the incident.
"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", Schimpf told the Post.
A real-life Moby Dick situation!
When Jonah was swallowed by a whale it took three days and three nights before he was finally spat back out, alive, on a beach.
Rainer Schimpf, 51, was snorkeling off the coast of Port Elizabeth. "Once I felt the pressure, I instantly knew that the whale had grabbed me".
Schimpf's fellow divers say the whales do not get a look at their prey as they scoop it up in their mouths, and may have mistaken the unfortunate diver for a dolphin or large fish.
Sorry to Baleen On You: Whale Almost Swallows South African Diving Tour Operator
Only Schimpf's wetsuit separated his flesh from the whale's jaws.
"Silke saw there was a foreign object in the whale - but it was only when I popped up by the boat she realised it was me", Schimpf said.
The type of whale involved was a Bryde's whale, which is a baleen-feeder that eats mostly plankton.
It wasn't exactly the tale of Jonah, but one man still has a whale of a story to tell.
Bryde Whales are known to grow up to 55 feet in length and are typically found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans.
Schimpf said he feels "privileged" to have experienced something so rare, but he hopes it doesn't happen again. This was no attack, it was not the fault of the whale, and they are really sensitive.
Bryde's whales are members of the baleen whale family, a group that includes blue whales and humpback whales, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
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