Man Swallowed By Whale Reveals How He Escaped

Man swallowed by whale speaks out.7 News Sydney

Being swallowed by a whale sounds like the sort of fear you leave behind in childhood, like quicksand or swinging on your chair. However, for one man, this became a horrifying reality.

Rainer Schimpf from South Africa had been snorkelling close to Port Elizabeth harbour when the unthinkable happened.

The 51-year-old dive tour operator was mistakenly swallowed head first by a Bryde’s whale during a feeding frenzy.

One moment he had been snorkelling with two of his colleagues – trying to get a good shot of a sardine run – and the next he was plunged into darkness after being sucked into the whale’s cavernous mouth.

Many of us would be left frantic with fear and confusion, but – as an experienced marine conservationist and photographer – Rainer had a good idea about what was going on.

Speaking with The Telegraph, Rainer said:

There was no time for fear or any emotion,

I knew instantly what had happened. I knew that a whale had come and taken me and I instinctively held my breath, assuming that it would dive down again and spit me out somewhere in the depths of the Indian Ocean.

The terrifying moment Rainer disappeared into the whale’s mighty jaws was captured on camera, and has since been widely shared on social media.

Fortunately the whale got wise to his accidental human snack and spat Rainer back out, Jonah-style:

I felt enormous pressure around my waist which is when I guess the whale realized his mistake.

As the the whale turned sideways, he opened his mouth slightly to release me and I was washed out, together with what felt like tons of water, of his mouth, while the whale himself was swallowing all the fish in his throat.

Rainer ‘only’ spent around 1.8 seconds in the whale’s mouth, although I imagine the ordeal felt nightmarishly long.

Amazingly, fearless Rainer jumped straight back in the water after checking himself for injuries, and only twigged how much peril he had been later that day.

Speaking with The Telegraph, Rainer said:

On our return in the evening Heinz [a fellow photographer] checked his images and it was only once I saw them that I realized just how lucky I was to be looking at them.

Seconds decide if you become prey, seconds decide your survival and seconds are all that counts.

Bryde’s whales – who can dive to incredible depths – can measure up to 55 ft in length, weighing up to 30 tons. Although Rainer knows the whale didn’t deliberately set out to swallow him, he has certainly had a very lucky escape indeed…

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