Diver Rainer Schimpf is sucked into a Bryde whale in South Africa

Bryde’s Whale

South African photographer and dive tour operator Rainer Schimpf, 51, was off the coast at Port Elizabeth when he looked down and realised a mammoth Bryde's whale was getting a little too close for comfort.

"It happened extremely fast ..."

Only Schimpf's wetsuit separated his flesh from the whale's jaws. According to the story, Jonah remained for three days in the body of a huge fish, praying and apologizing to God for his mistakes, until he was expelled alive by the marine species.

"Then, the next moment it got dark and I felt some pressure when I instantly knew, a whale had grabbed me", Schimpf recalls. "And from being on the surface and observing something, I became the inside man and was suddenly inside a whale looking out", Rainer told Barcroft TV.

A video of a man almost being swallowed by a bryde's whale has surfaced and is gaining traction online.

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As much of a surprise as the encounter was for Schimpf, he's sure it was a surprise for the whale as well. "They also feast on bigger crustaceans such as crabs and shrimps, as well as a variety of small schooling fish", Whales.org says.

Keen to get the best shots, he plunged into the centre of a swirling bait ball - but when the sea suddenly churned, the group realised that something unusual was happening.

"As they come up with their mouths open, they can't really see what is in front of them, and I guess the whale thought it was a dolphin", said fellow dive instructor Claudia Weber-Gebert in the video. The diver believed it was an accident after the whale promptly spat him again out.

Bryde's whales can dive for up to 20 minutes on one breath and are capable of reaching depths of up to 300m.

The type of whale involved was a Bryde's whale, which is a baleen-feeder that eats mostly plankton.

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