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Man Gets Swept Into Whale's Mouth And Lives To Tell The Tale

A South African dive tour operator was photographing a sardine run off the coast of Port Elizabeth when he got scooped up into a whale's mouth.

Rainer Schimpf and his team were snorkelling alongside penguins, seals, dolphins, sharks and whales -- which were feeding on sardines -- when he was swept up in the jaws of the giant mammal.

Schimpf's wife and colleagues watched in horror as the 51-year-old's head and torso disappeared deep into the whale's mouth.

“Suddenly, dolphins shot out of the water, a white spray came out and then a whale appeared and grabbed him", colleague and photographer Heinz Toperczer told Barcroft TV.

The whole thing was caught on camera.

IMAGE: Barcroft TV

“I was trying to get a shot of a shark going through the bait ball and then the next moment it got dark and I felt some pressure when I instantly knew, a whale had grabbed me,” he Schimpf told the publication.

“I could feel the pressure on my hip, there is no time for fear in a situation like that – you have to use your instinct,” he added.

It appears it was Schimpf's lucky day -- instead of being swallowed or taken by the whale, he was spat out and ultimately saved from injury or even death.

Schimpf was spat out just in time IMAGE: Barcroft TV

A video of the ordeal, posted on YouTube, had amassed more than 1.7million views when this article was published.

"It gives me a connection to the whale which I don't think anyone else has ever had before," Schimpf said.

It looks like a world first -- there's no evidence of a similar encounter anywhere online.

Schimpf was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Bryde's whales can reach lengths of up to 16 metres long and weigh up to 30 tonnes, but they are gentle giants and don't pose a threat to humans.