A whale almost swallowed a sight-seer after knocking him into the churning sea by accident during a feeding frenzy.
Marino Gherbavaz, 51, and his daughter Gillian, 22, were taking part in a whale watching cruise around Algoa Bay, South Africa, on April 3 when disaster almost struck.
Incredible footage shows a hungry Bryde’s whale breach out of the water with its mouth wide open looking for a snack near the Raggy Charters boat.
The huge animal – which can weigh up to 40 tonnes – hit the side of the boat causing it to rock violently.
As it did it sent Marino flying into the water.
Fortunately for the waterborne dad another boat was nearby and pulled him aboard quickly.
Gillian, from Gqeberha, South Africa, said: “When I realised it was my dad in the water, I panicked. I could not understand why he was in the ocean.
“He is not normally the type to make a spectacle, so I was very confused. Once I knew he was okay and could swim to the boat on his own I relaxed.
“The whale and dolphins had moved on so I couldn’t see any immediate danger.
“When he got back in the boat, I went to him and said ‘what did you do that for’ and we both laughed so I knew he was okay.
“A massive pod of common dolphins were rounding up the fish into a bait ball and the fish tried to use the boat for cover and that’s when the whale went in for a lunge feed and hit us.
“There was so much excitement surrounding the event because of all the commotion and the huge variation of sea life involved in the feeding frenzy so we were all preoccupied with watching the show and I honestly thought we had hit a rock until I saw the breech.
“It felt like the boat had stalled the way a car would and there was a loud bang, which is why I thought we’d hit a rock.
“There was another rubber dinghy at the site – they had informed us about the whales – and they came to help my dad out. It was really quick, and he was back in the boat before I had a real chance to worry.”
The boat’s captain had been about to head home for the day when it received information about the sardines and whales, prompting a change of course.
“We had been out since about 8am and got to the site where the whale was around 11:30 and shortly after the whale hit the boat in the middle of the feeding frenzy,” Gillian said.
“My whole family were on the boat, as well as my aunt and uncle. We did a similar trip in December and loved it so much we decided to go again.
“We will probably go many more times in the future.”
Raggy Charters is the oldest Marine Eco Tour company combined with a conservation project in Africa running since 1992.
Owner Lloyd Edwards said: “Luckily the whale didn’t hit us in the middle, otherwise the boat would have been in real trouble. It was a glancing blow to the side.
“The whale was keen to get to the sardines which had been herded into a bait ball by the common dolphins chasing it up the coast.
“It still left a hole in the boat but we have fixed that already and we filed a report with the coast guard immediately.
“We have a 100 per cent safety record.”