For 15 years, renowned environmental photographer Rainer Schimpf has documented the popular Sardine Run along South Africa’s southern coast – but this time it was different, and his experience has made global headlines!
“The day itself was perfect,” recounted Schimpf. He and his team documenting the run launched off the Port Elizabeth harbour and headed 25 nautical miles from shore.
“I was swimming and filming sardines and the dusky sharks feeding on them. Suddenly the whole world around me got dark and I felt enormous pressure around my waist, in the area where my weight belt was situated.
“I knew instantly what had happened – a Bryde’s Whale had accidentally included me in its mouth with its meal of the day.”
While others would panic, Schimpf remained calm.
“Comforting to me was the knowledge that the whale would be unable to completely swallow me into its stomach. I held my breath, thinking that the whale would instinctively dive down again before spitting me out somewhere in the depths of the Indian Ocean.
“I felt the pressure increase around my waist, which is when I guess the whale realized his mistake. As it turned sideways, it opened its mouth slightly to release me and I was washed out, together with what felt like tons of water.
“I swam back to the vessel, climbed up and checked if my camera was OK. [There were] no broken bones and no cracked ribs, so all was good.”
I Was Spat Out By A Whale | SNAPPED IN THE WILD
His experience has made headlines globally.
Pleasure interviewing Rainer Schimpf today – the man taken in and then spat out of a whale’s mouth. Catch my piece on Sky News this evening https://t.co/GNuU8H3opS
— Helen-Ann Smith (@HelenAnnSmith0) March 9, 2019
“What we experience in Algoa Bay on a daily basis is spectacular and we remain steadfast in our resolve to ensure that the natural environment receives the highest possible attention and protection.