[WATCH] SA diver almost swallowed then spat out by a whale near Port Elizabeth

It isn't quite the biblical story of 'Jonah and the Whale', but it came pretty close...

51-year-old dive tour operator Rainer Schimpf describes how he and his colleagues were documenting the annual sardine run snorkelling close to Port Elizabeth harbour when a Bryde’s whale almost swallowed him, head first.

They are gentle giants and sensitive creatures, say friends and family who witnessed the incident. It was not an attack as whales are not man-eaters. As it came up from the ocean with its mouths open to feed on fish, it mistakenly sucked Schimpf into its enormous mouth.

They say the whale was surely as surprised as Schimpf.

Schimpf says it happened very fast.

Nothing can prepare you for the event when you end up inside the whale. It's pure instinct.

Rainer Schimpf, Diver

It got dark. I felt some pressure on my hip....and I instantly knew a whale had grabbed me. There is no time for fear in a situation like that.

Rainer Schimpf, Diver

He was then washed out of the whale's mouth.

Watch how he was swallowed and then released below:

Check out the whole story here:

Photograph Credit: Heinz Toperczer/Barcroft Images

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