Alive to tell the tale: SA man nearly swallowed by whale

Alive to tell the tale: SA man nearly swallowed by whale

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.

"It gives me a connection to the whale which I don't think anyone else has had", Schimpf added, in quite an understatement.

Members of his crew filmed the ordeal, filming Schimpf's entire torso caught in the animal's jaws. The next moment, it got dark and I felt some pressure on my hip.

"This is the most different looking killer whale I've ever seen", said Robert Pitman, an NOAA marine ecologist in San Diego.

"There was no time for fear or any emotion", he told The Telegraph.

Schimpf heads the company Dive Expert Tours, which organises diving excursions for amateurs and professionals.

The 51-year-old was engulfed by the whale who was up to 15m long and weighed 20 tonnes.

The diver and witnesses to the incident believe the whale was just as surprised to find a man in it's mouth. I knew instantly what had happened - a Bryde's whale had accidentally included me in its mouth with its meal of the day.

"Whales are not man-eaters". It was no fault of the whale. But one diver from South Africa got a little too close for comfort during a recent ocean expedition.

The video of the dive has gone viral, garnering more than 1.5 million views on social media in a couple of days. "When it realised it's not something it wanted to eat, it spat me out".

He's lucky it didn't ― Bryde's whales, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, can dive for five to 15 minutes and can reach depths of up to 1,000 feet.

Despite the beast's impressive size, Bryde's whales mainly feed on tiny ocean creatures like krill.

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