A diver off the coast of Norway was “nearly swallowed” by a 35,000-pound humpback whale on Monday, according to local reports.
He narrowly missed being engulfed by the underwater mammal and becoming a reenactment of a scene from “Pinocchio”—or the Bible.
Patrick Dykstra, who organizes photography adventure tours, was leading a group of divers in the Norwegian Sea to photograph orcas in their winter feeding location. The underwater photographers were shooting the orcas when a humpback whale emerged from the depths and narrowly avoided Dykstra.
“It's hard to tell from the video, but the whale swerved last minute to avoid hitting me,” Dykstra told ABC News. “It's fascinating how something so big and moving so fast could avoid me last minute. They're incredibly intelligent creatures that know exactly where they are.”
Dykstra has been swimming with whales for the past 20 years and described his close encounter as more “exciting” than scary.
However, even if—in a worst case scenario—Dykstra had somehow been engulfed by the whale, it would have been impossible for him to be swallowed whole and go into the belly of the beast.
First (and perhaps most importantly) is that although whales have incredibly large mouths, their throats are tiny. The blue whale’s esophagus is too small for even a human baby’s head to pass through. The only whale whose throat could (theoretically) allow a human to pass through is the sperm whale.
But the biggest threat in being swallowed by a whale would be the immense pressure that builds up behind its baleen and on top of its tongue as the animal expulses water from its mouth.
However, it’s important to remember that the chance of being swallowed by a whale is incredibly unlikely, due to the animal’s intelligence. There are absolutely no instances on record of a diver being swallowed by a whale.