Dive tour operator, Rainer Schimpf, described the heart-stopping moment of nearly being swallowed by a Bryde’s whale. He was trying to record a sardine run around 25 miles off the coast of South Africa when the incident happened and everything suddenly went dark. For a second he thought he was getting a rare shot of a shark going through the bait ball, but all he got was a whale grabbing him. As Rainer felt pressure against his hips; he instantly knew that he had to use his instincts to survive.
The moment he was taken away by the huge marine mammal, he held his breath as they dove down deeper into the pitch-black abyss. Photographer, Heinz Toperczer, who was part of Schimpf’s team was able to capture the incident on camera. Schimpf only realized the weight of his encounter with the whale after he saw the images. The whole event occurred in a matter of seconds. The Bryde’s whale can grow up to 55 feet and weigh 30 tonnes. It scoops up vast amounts of food by merely opening its enormous mouth, swallowing anything in its path. These whales don’t eat humans, but there have been reports of them accidentally swallowing them.
Rainer was an example of just this. He happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. It was purely coincidental that the whale miscalculated and got him instead of the fish.