Tuesday 22 October 2019

Lucky escape for diver trapped in whale's jaws

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Victoria Ward

When Jonah was swallowed by a whale, it took three days and three nights before he was finally spat back out alive.

Fortunately for Rainer Schimpf (51), his ordeal was of less biblical proportions when he too found himself trapped in the jaws of a huge whale.

The South African dive tour operator said everything went dark as his head and torso were swallowed by a Bryde's whale in a feeding frenzy.

"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," he said.

Mr Schimpf had been snorkelling with two colleagues off the coast of Port Elizabeth.

The experienced marine conservationist and photographer was attempting to film a sardine run.

Keen to get the best shots, he plunged into the centre of a swirling bait ball - but a Bryde's whale shot up from the depths, jaws wide open. Mr Schimpf found himself wedged inside its mouth.

"It opened its mouth slightly to release me and I was washed out, together with what felt like tons of water, of his mouth."

Mr Schimpf said it was not an attack, adding: "It was going for the fish and I happened to be in the wrong spot.

"I was collateral damage and I'm sure it was as frightening for the whale as it was for me."

Irish Independent

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