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Real-life ‘Jonah’ escapes after nearly being swallowed by whale

PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa – A diver in South Africa nearly became a real life ‘Jonah and the Whale’ after a whale almost swallowed him, Barcroft TV reports.

Rainer Schimpf, 51, was snorkeling off the coast of Port Elizabeth. He says he was in the water for just a few minutes when a whale appeared.

He was there to record a sardine run, which is when marine animals gather fish into bait balls.

“The next moment it got dark, and I felt pressure on my hip. And once I felt pressure, instantly I knew a whale had grabbed me,” Schimpf told Barcroft TV.

Schimpf says he realized he was too big for the whale to swallow him, and he knew he would eventually be let go.

The whale that almost swallowed Schimpf was a Bryde’s Whale, which can grow up to 55 feet long and weigh up to 30 tons.

“Whales are no man-eaters – so this was really an accident, they are gentle giants,” Schimpf said.

Schimpf said he feels “privileged” to have experienced something so rare, but he hopes it doesn’t happen again. “I don’t think I had a ‘whale’ of a time.”

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