It’s a story that is reminiscent of a well-known biblical tale where Jonah is swallowed by a giant fish but is eventually spit out unharmed.
For one man in South Africa, that story hit a bit too close to home.
“There is no time for fear in a situation like that, you have to use your instinct,” Rainer Schimpf said.
Schimpf was inside a whale and lived to tell the tale.
“It all happened very fast,” Schimpf said.
Schimpf, a dive tour operator, was documenting a routine sardine run 25 miles off the coast of South Africa when he was swept into the mouth of a Bryde’s whale.
Half of Schimpf’s body was hanging out of the mouth of the mammal.
“The next moment it got dark and I felt some pressure on my hip. and once I felt the pressure I instantly knew, a whale had grabbed me,” Schimpf said.
Bryde’s whales can reach up to 55 feet and can weigh up to 60,000 pounds.
Lucky for Schimpf he wasn’t the whale’s meal of choice.
“And in the next moment, I kinda feel the whale turning and then pressure was released … I was washed out of the mouth,” Schimpf said.
He had no injuries and maintains this wasn’t an attack.
“In all the years nothing every occurred like that, I guess it was a surprise for the whale as well,” he said.
He says he’s in no rush to repeat the “inside” job.
“It was an interesting experience for me but surely nothing I want to do again,” he said.
Schimpf spent a total of 1.8 seconds inside the whale.
It’s 1.8 seconds he probably won’t ever forget.