A 49-foot Bryde’s whale nearly swallowed diver Rainer Schimpf as it was coming up to feed on a massive glob of sardines, known as a bait ball.
We first saw the story posted by Jesus Diaz at Gizmodo.
Underwater footage of the dramatic close encounter was captured by Schimpf while he was filming the annual sardine run — when millions of sardines travel north along the South African coastline between the months of May and July.
The biggest fish migration in the world creates a feeding frenzy as predators that include birds, sharks, fish, dolphins, and whales come to snack on the tiny silvery fish.
“I saw him [the whale] coming up and I thought that’s it for me,” Schimpf was quoted as saying by The Daily Mail. “The diameter of his mouth was big enough to swallow a car — he would have barely felt me going in.”
Fortunately, whales aren’t interested in eating people.
“At the last moment he must have realised I was there and he diverted away from me and actually missed most of the bait ball,” Schimpf said.
According to Barcroft TV, Schimpf was sent “flying as the whale breached.” The diver’s wife took a photograph as the whale was coming out the water with her husband just a few feet away, according to the Mail.
Bryde’s whales weigh around 90,000 pounds and can consume up to 1,450 pounds of food per day, according to NOAA. The whales typically feed on krill, crustaceans, and small fish.
Watch the incident in the video below:
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