An individual who was swallowed whole by a whale didn’t even become aware of his situation until everything around him turned black.
A “sardine run,” in which inhabitants of the deep herd schools of sardines together so they can more easily eat them, was being captured on camera by wildlife photographer Rainer Schimpf off the coast of South Africa.
Schimpf attempted to capture the sardine run in all its glory while snorkeling in the water near Port Elizabeth Harbour, but instead he was devoured by a Bryde’s whale.
He was fortunate enough to escape the entire ordeal unscathed, but if the whale had chosen to dive for the bottom while he was still in its mouth, he almost certainly would have perished.
Fortunately, instead of dragging him down to a watery grave, it eventually spat him out to safety.
As he said in an interview with Today, Schimpf revealed that the process of being consumed by the whale was essentially over before he realized it.
It took less than two seconds, he said. The first thing I noticed in those two seconds was that I had been grabbed and had had my hips pushed together. I immediately recognized it as a whale when I felt the pressure.
“My second thought was that it obviously cannot swallow me because a human cannot fit down the whale’s throat. My subsequent thought was that it would probably dive down with me.
“The only thing I could do was hold my breath and be ready. You can’t fight a 15-ton animal; all I was doing was holding on, bracing myself, and calming down so I wouldn’t panic. He spit me out, so it worked out.
When Rainer returned home, he found that not even a single bruise or scratch had been left on his body as a result of the mild inconvenience of being eaten alive.
He added that it was “much better that than a shark” that a whale was the animal that might have eaten him.
According to Schimpf, when “suddenly it got dark,” he realized a whale had eaten him because he’d been too busy watching out for sharks who might decide to bite him.
Michael Packard, a lobster fisherman off the coast of Cape Cod, was eaten when a whale appeared “out of nowhere.” Another man also had a close encounter with death when he was swallowed by a whale.
Like Rainer, Michael was essentially forced to wait in the hopes that the animal would spit him out, which it thankfully did.
Despite the close calls, neither man had been deterred from getting back into the water at all.