Fearing the 45ft, 20-tonne Bryde's whale would plunge to the depths of the Indian Ocean with him on board, Mr Schimpf took a huge breath and held it.
Rainer Schimpf, 51, was diving in waters off Port Elizabeth, South Africa in February when he found himself almost swallowed by a Bryde's whale.
Schimpf expressed his surprise and astonishment over finding the mammal out of nowhere, as whales would usually be spotted by the divers before they made an attempt to get close. "I was busy concentrating on the sharks because you want to know if the shark is in front of you or behind you, left or right, so we were very focused on the sharks and their behavior - then suddenly it got dark". A dive tour operator has described how he survived getting swallowed by a whale off the coast of South Africa.
Incredible photos of the moment Rainer Schimpf, 51, found himself scooped up by the Bryde's whale off Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in February emerged this week. "I was collateral damage and I'm sure it was as frightening for the whale as it was for me".
"As the whale turned sideways, it opened its mouth slightly to release me and I was washed out, together with what felt like tons of water, of his mouth, while the whale itself swallowed all the fish in its throat".
DAVID WHITE STUFFRainer Schimpf was attempting to film a sardine run when the whale shot up from the depths
The 51-year-old's fellow dive teachers said his incident with the whale was undoubtably an accident.
"On our return in the evening, Heinz checked his images and it was only once I saw them that I realized just how lucky I was to be looking at them", he added. "I now have the inside knowledge of whale which nobody else has".
Bryde's whales can reach lengths of 16 metres.
Bryde's whales apparently only feed on large fish and plankton.