Rainer Schimpf runs adventure sightseeing tours out of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, where he also films marine life — from the surface and from the depths.
Each year Schimpf makes a point of diving to film the annual sardine run. This year the 47-year-old native of Germany almost became an hors d’oeuvre.
Schimpf had his camera aimed downward to catch up-close action of fish just yards away when a 50-foot Bryde's whale emerged from the darkness, massive jaws agape and heading straight for him.
“I saw him coming up and I thought, That's it for me. The diameter of his mouth was big enough to swallow a car — he would have barely felt me going in,” Schimpf said.
Luckily, the 40-ton mammal turned at the last moment to avoid smacking directly into Schimpf, but it sent him flying as it breached.
Schimpf has since been busy posting the media coverage that his close encounter has garnered on his Facebook page.