While photographing a mass of sardines off South Africa’s coast last month, a dive tour operator ended up on the wrong side of a whale — the inside.
Rainer Schimpf, 51, was in the water with a “bait ball,” a swirling school of sardines surrounded by predators, when he suddenly felt the world go dark. He quickly realized he’d been scooped up by a whale, he told The Today Show.
“I held my breath,” he said in an interview with Today, expecting the whale to pull him down. “I mean there was no other thing I could do,” he added. “I mean, you can’t fight a 15-ton animal”.
Fortunately, the whale was likely as displeased about the situation as Schimpf and spit the swimmer out within a couple of seconds. Photographer Heinz Toperczer, who was working aboard a nearby boat, captured an amazing photo of Schimpf halfway inside the whale’s mouth above the waterline, with only the diver’s lower body dangling out. Live Science was unable to reach Schimpf for comment, but it seems that neither Schimpf nor the whale saw each other before one ended up in the other’s mouth.
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