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Man Swallowed By Whale Lives To Tell The Tale

Wildlife Photographer Gets Close Encounter With Whale In a story straight out of the Book of Jonah, a wildlife photographer was nearly swallowed alive by a 15-ton whale off...

(Photo Credit: Silke Schimpf / Heinz Toperczer / Barcroft Images)

Wildlife Photographer Gets Close Encounter With Whale

In a story straight out of the Book of Jonah, a wildlife photographer was nearly swallowed alive by a 15-ton whale off the coast of South Africa–and lived to tell about it.

Rainer Schimpf, a 51-year-old photographer from South Africa, was shooting photos of a sardine run when his head and torso were sucked into the mouth of a Bryde’s whale. These giant sea creatures can grow up to 55 feet long and weigh 30 tons.

Schimpf said he was far more concerned about sharks, which are known to congregate around sardine runs, than whales that day. He told “Today” he knew the whale wouldn’t swallow him because a whale’s throat isn’t big enough for that. But during the terrifying ordeal, he did worry he was going to drown.

“My second thought was that obviously, it can’t swallow me, because the throat of a whale is not big enough to swallow a human, and my next thought was it’s most likely going to dive down with me,” Schimpf said. “I was just holding myself and bracing myself and calming myself down not to be panicked, and it worked out.”

Incredibly, Schimpf survived totally uninjured and went back to shooting the sardine run. He showed photos of the Jonah-like incident to his son–whose name, surprisingly enough, is Jonas.

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