PE man almost swallowed by whale escapes unharmed

039;I instantly knew a whale had grabbed me,’ man spit up by one says

Rainer Schimpf, 51, was nearly swallowed whole by a 55-foot Bryde's whale while diving off the coast of Port Elizabeth. "It all happened very fast". Comforting to me was the knowledge that the whale would be unable to completely swallow me into its stomach.

Unlike the biblical story of Jonah, Schimpf didn't end up in the whale's belly but was able to swim away after being released.

Rainer returned to his boat unscathed and feeling closer to whales than ever before. So, once I felt something has grabbed me on the hip, I knew instantly it was whale so I instantly held my breath.

"As they come up with their mouths open, they can't see what is in front of them, and I guess the whale thought it was a dolphin", diver Claudia Weber-Gebert said.

Aged 51, Schimpf has been working as a dive tour operator in town for more than 15 years, and each year, he makes sure to document the migration.

This representative photo shows a mother Bryde's whale (front) and her calf feeding on anchovies in the Gulf of Thailand, off the coast of Samut Sakhon province, November 20, 2016.

The 51-year-old said once the whale grabbed him, he felt pressure around his body but soon realized he was too big for the whale to swallow him whole which was "kind of an instant relief".

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

"Whales are no man-eaters", witness Claudia Weber-Gebert told Barcroft Animals in an interview. This was no attack, it was not the fault of the whale, and they are really sensitive.

The video of the dive has gone viral, garnering more than 1.5 million views on social media in a couple of days.

"Obviously he realised I was not what he wanted to eat so he spat me out again".

One minute he was snorkeling; the next, he had been scooped up by a whale.

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

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