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Almost a Jonah: whale swallows man, then spits him out

South African dive tour operator Rainer Schimpf, 51, got much much closer to a whale that he intended.

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“The sea around him started to churn into a dark mess, and he quickly found himself inside the whale,” News.com.au reports.

“Nothing can actually prepare you for the event when you end up inside the whale and then it’s pure instinct,” Schimpf said.

Schimpf was trying to get a picture of the whale attacking a sardine catch when it “all happened very fast”.

“It got dark, I felt some pressure on my hip, and I instantly knew a whale had grabbed me,” he told British news agency Barcroft TV. (A controlling stake in Barcroft is owned by Britain’s Channel 4. Channel 4 is a publicly owned advertising funded channel a bit like Australia’s SBS without the multiculturalism.)

The London Daily Telegraph has a gallery of Schimpf’s pictures here.

Barcroft’s video of the incident has gone viral with over 4 million views – the company is a major YouTube video provider.

According to NSW National Parks, Bryde’s whale – the species involved – can be found in Australian waters, but how many is uncertain. They have an average length of 12 metres and feed on fish, crustaceans and octopus, not people.

Schimpf’s story makes him an almost Jonah – the man swallowed by a whale in the Bible’s book of Jonah.

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