Whales almost swallow divers (VIDEO)

whales almost swallow divers video
Screen capture YouTube

Well, here's something you don't see everyday. While diving off the Central California coast, two divers were nearly swallowed gulped by humpback whales. And, as is now commonplace these days, the whole thing was caught on video.

From what I can tell from the video, the whales were feeding by using a process called bubble net feeding, in which the whales swim in circles releasing bubbles beneath a school of prey, until the prey is "corralled" into a tight "bait ball." The whales then swim up towards the surface "mouths agape and consume thousands of fish in one gulp," according to Wikipedia. If the two divers had been a few feet over, the whale's mouths may have consumed more than just thousands of fish.

© Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Humpback whales are not the largest species of whale, but they are certainly big enough to swallow fit a human in their mouth, as this graphic from Encyclopædia Britannica illustrates.

The video is incredible and for divers and cameramen Jay Hebrard, Francis Antigua, Jeremy Bonnett and Shawn Stamback, the story will be one to tell for years to come.

That said, I feel compelled to make the requisite warning about the importance of respecting nature and not interfering with wildlife just to get a good photo or video, but I think in this instance, almost being eaten alive engulfed in a whale mouth is a good enough warning not to try this yourself.

UPDATE: Commenter Raúl Pedro Santos is concerned that my original phrasing -- that the divers were almost "eaten alive" and "swallowed" -- was inaccurate and would make people think whales are killers to be feared. I didn't meant to give that implication, so I've rephrased the post. When I wrote "eaten" I didn't mean to suggest that the divers were going to be swallowed, digested and excreted as they would if they were food. I also didn't mean "swallowed" in the biological sense, but more so that the divers risked being contained in the mouth and possibly drowning if they were carried deep on the whale's next dive. Raul is right that the words I used have specific meanings and I should have used different phrasing from the start. As I get at in the final graf, whales should not be feared, but rather respected and admired, preferably from a safe distance.

Tags: Oceans | video | Whales