Monday 25 March 2019

South African man escapes jaws of whale

Rainer Schimpf got swept into the mouth of a Bryde’s whale off coast of Port Elizabeth
Agence France-Presse
Mon 11 Mar 2019 15.58 GMTLast modified on Mon 11 Mar 2019 16.02 GMT
Like the Bible’s Jonah, a South African marine conservationist has narrowly survived after being caught in the jaws of a whale.
Rainer Schimpf, 51, was swept into the mouth of a large Bryde’s whale off the coast of the South African town of Port Elizabeth while snorkelling and filming a sardine run last month.
“Looming up out of darkness below came a Bryde’s whale shooting up into the ball of fish, gulping all in its path,” he told AFP, adding that his legs were hanging from the mammal’s mouth during the incident at the end of February.
Schimpf’s wife, Silke, and a photographer watched on in horror from their boat, chartered to watch the sardine run, which creates a marine feeding frenzy off Africa’s southern coast.
“I felt some pressure around my waist and I immediately knew what had happened. [It] accidentally included me in its mouth together with its main meal – the sardines.”
Schimpf, an award-winning conservationist with 20 years’ experience, said the ordeal lasted a “matter of seconds” – rather than the three nights Jonah spent in a whale’s stomach, according to the Bible story.
 “[Then] the whale realised its mistake and opened its mouth, releasing me. I was washed out with what felt like tonnes of water from its mouth,” he said.
Bryde’s whales can weigh up to 30 tons when mature and typically eat krill and fish.
When he finally reached the surface he took a breath and rejoined his fellow snorkelers who were unaware of the unfolding drama.

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