PE Diver Photographed Inside Mouth of the Whale

PE Diver Photographed Inside Mouth of the Whale:

Man in Whale's Mouth

INSIDE MAN Rainer Schimpf of Expert Tours and AB Marine Whale Watching in Algoa Bay Photo: Silke Schimpf

We can confidently say that this has never been recorded before in the annals of mankind…….

The above images are available from Barcroft Media who have secured the Worldwide Licensing rights. Any requests for images can be sent to the Barcroft licensing team at:

Other video by Rainer Schimpf available under license from Barcroft Studios can be seen in the Barcroft Studio Library – search for ‘Rainer Schimpf’.

Exclusive interviews with Rainer can be booked through the contact form on the AB Marine Web Site.

Inside Man

For over 20 years Port Elizabeth, South Africa based Rainer Schimpf has lived his passion as a marine conservationist, award winning photographer and tour operator in the marine and adventure sector.

His dedication to protecting the environment has made him known around the globe with his particular passion for documenting Orcas killing dolphins, whilst documenting Orcas hunting behavior and pod structure. Schimpf was the first to film and document a handicapped Orca (named SIRA) in Algoa Bay, South Africa. Most of these sightings occurred during the biggest marine migration in the Southern Hemisphere and Indian Ocean – the Sardine Run. Rainer is an acknowledged authority, specialising in tracking and finding Sardines and the predators (Dolphins, Whales, Sharks and sea Birds) that follow and feast on the Sardine Run, having documented this marine spectacle all along the Southern Cape Coast to Port Elizabeth’s Algoa Bay (which hosts the longest and greatest portion of the Sardine Run up South Africa’s East Coast) to the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape.

Sardine Run divers, Whale and Dolphin Watchers and International Film Crews all rely on Rainer’s marine knowledge to ‘get the shot’. Over 20 years expertise is distilled into the ‘hunt’ for cetaceans along the coast. Schimpf is particularly proud of hosting his biggest production for Galatee/Pathe with Oceans and Discovery on a film featuring Sea Wolf/Orca hunting.

An innate ability to think like a photographer and filmmaker ensures that production companies benefit from his skills on their productions. Award winning photography prizes range from Antipes to Natures Best Photography.

A passion for the environment sees Rainer creating awareness amongst and training young South Africans to sustain and protect nature and in the marine environment. This dedication has seen him team up with World Wide Experience, Mantis, Wilderness Foundation and The Department of Ocean & Coast, which are using his footage and expertise to do further training.

Other awards include a KUDU Award from SANParks, The Herald Citizen of the year award and a TBCSA Innovation award – all for his work and contribution to the eco tourism sector and educational awareness.

Rainer says; “If I was reborn I would like to come back as a Whale.”

During February 2019 Rainer had his chance to experience what being part of a whale would be like – the experience would be one a little unlike Jonah running away from Nineveh…

There are two recurring stories similar to the ‘Jonah Experience’ in the Bible:

In February 1891, thirty-eight year-old James Bartley, (the ‘Modern Jonah’) was reported to have been swallowed by a Whale whilst whaling off the sailing vessel Star of the East in the United States, completing a two and a half year trip. A statement of a remarkable nature was presented by Bartley and vouched for by the captain and crew. According to the story Bartley was recovered and released from the stomach of a whale 36 hours after falling overboard and disappearing.

No images were taken to corroborate the James Bartley ‘report’.

In April 2016 a 56-year-old Spanish fisherman, Luigi Marquez, claimed that a whale had swallowed him. According to Marquez he stayed there for three days and nights.

No images were taken to corroborate Marquez’s ‘ordeal’.

Whilst filming the Sardine Run in Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth, South Africa – Rainer became the INSIDE MAN.

One of Africa’s great adventures is filming predators feasting on a bait ball of Sardines. The timing to get into the water is crucial and safety around the filmaker paramount. Predators such as sharks, dolphins and whales go into a feeding frenzy and often the visibility is severely reduced.

Once before Rainer has been nearly swallowed by a predating Brydes Whale surfacing alongside him through a bait bail.

This time was very different.

Plunging into a bait ball in the warm Indian Ocean, with two security snorkelers alongside., Rainer commenced filming dolphins, sharks, gannets, penguins, cormorants and gulls diving deep into the water predating on the sardine. Suddenly, looming up out of the darkness below came a Brydes Whale shooting up into the ball of fish gulping all in its path….

In the Expert Tours boat on the surface Heinz Toperczer – the photographer who snapped the images of Rainer in the mouth of the whale – and Silke, Rainers wife watched aghast as the huge whale took Rainer in it’s mouth – his head and torso plunging inside the gaping maw and, for what seemed like far too many seconds to count, Rainer was INSIDE the Brydes whales mouth.

As Heinz shot a series of images of the incident, Silke’s heart stopped until Rainer was spat out of the mouth of the whale.

Schimpf says; “I was swimming and filming Sardines and 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 and I knew instantly what had happened – a Brydes Whale had accidentally included me in it’s mouth with it’s meal of the day. Comforting to me was the knowledge that the whale would be unable to completely swallow me into it’s stomach. But my hard won experience kicked in and I instantly 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 the the whale turned sideways, opened his mouth slightly to release me and I was washed out, together with what felt like tons of water, of his mouth, while the whale himself was swallowing all the fish in his throat.

“Gripping my precious Seacam Underwater Housing which, along with the buoyancy of my Xcel dive suit, dragged me up to the surface. Surfacing I took a deep welcome breath, connected with the other snorkelers who, at that point had no clue what had just happened and searched for the Expert Tours Vessel with my wife, Silke, on it.

“I swam back to the vessel, climbed up checked if I and the camera was OK. No broken bones, no cracked ribs so all was good. Pumped up with adrenaline and the Bait ball action was still ongoing so I went back into the Indian Ocean looking for Sharks.

“On our return in the evening Heinz checked his images and it was only once I saw the images that I realized just how lucky I was to be looking at them. Seconds decide in Nature whether you get a good shoot, seconds decide if you become prey, seconds decide your survival and seconds are all that counts.”

The whale was not harmed in any way and on top of being the OUTSIDE MAN to Rainer’s INSIDE MAN it also got to eat all the fish.

“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. Our local marine diversity and life face threats from Ship to Ship bunkering, Seismic testing for Oil and an large increase in Ship traffic. Port Elizabeth is the only city in the world with a monument in honour of the mythical King, Prester John whom Bartolomeu Dias was tasked to find in 1488 when he landed on St Croix Island in Bahia de Lagoa (now named Algoa Bay) on his journey seeking the route to the east. Those early travellers described Africa as a paradise with unbelievable natural treasures and Algoa Bay as a safe haven along the route with great marine diversity which we are honour bound to protect and hand over to future generations in a better state than it was given to us,” concluded Schimpf.

As an INSIDE MAN, Schimpf’s resolve to preserve the marine environment has been strengthened even more.

Asked about how it was possible to get so close to these wonderful animals Schimpf explained that his filming could only take place under an Ordinary Filming Permit issued in terms of the Provisions of the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act 2004, Act 10 of 2004 which imposed conditions governing his activity and those of his film team.

“In addition we have a self imposed safety perimeter of not closer than three meters to any bait ball when in the water. I am a stickler for the rules as they help contribute to our safety in the water at all times,” said Schimpf.

Comments from the incredible video:

Azliana Lyana: Mr. Reiner Schimpf…you’re lucky whale doesn’t have sharp teeth like shark! ?Be careful, we need more people like you out there. Not all people are lucky as you doing research and study about them. That’s a great footage and scary at the same time!

paulbrown357: Pretty awesome that the last person to this happened to was in the Bible this dude is truly a lucky man lucky for surviving and lucky forgetting to get sucked up by a whale

Eden OmarGoshTVSargiFams: This is very true. The whale mistakened him for it’s natural food which is why it spat that man back out. It knew it scooped up the wrong catch. I’m glad it was a whale and not a shark. That’d be another story.

Rainer in no stranger to close encounters having had a shark ‘taste’ his rubber duck in Mossel Bay during 2014; a Brydes whale surface right next to him during time same year ans a close encounter with a disabled Orce during 2017.

Man Nearly Swallowed by Whale:

Great White Shark Takes Bite out of Rubber Duck:

Close encounter with Disabled Orca:

Schimpf has spent countless hours in the water showcasing the Marine Animals in Algoa Bay and elsewhere – estimated at around 21 hours per week and covering 700 kilometers per week so the chances of an incident such as being nearly swallowed by a whale are considerably increased.

Rainer credits his strict adherence to the rules and permit conditions for his exemplary safety record since 1999.

“I feel incredibly privileged to be able to highlight the magnificent marine life that we have in Algoa Bay, South Africa on a daily basis and am convinced that this very unique incident of me in the mouth of a whale will be a great driver for tourism in our city and country for years to come,” concluded Schimpf.

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The one with a "My Complex" - incurable but fun. Grumpy, Cynical, Wise and Idiotic. I can also be found HERE.