Hard to believe, but apparently a diver was actually swallowed and eventually spit out by a whale shark.
There is a diver incident report on the Divers alert network website that records an incident where a 62 year old advanced open water diver was actually swallowed by a whale shark. Whale sharks, the world largest fish, are filter feeders and considered to be gentle giants.
Where as I have never come across a genuine incident of this nature involving whale sharks, I was hesitant to post this. There are so many fake posts & videos of supposed whale shark attacks that makes this incident somewhat hard to believe.
Ok, so … apparently while on a live-aboard excursion a 62 year old female advanced OW diver was swallowed up to her thighs by a whale shark. She was attempting to photograph a whale shark that was exhibiting a strange behavior for the last 40 minutes or so. It was actually swimming up to divers with its mouth open as if to swallow them, but the divers were able to swim out of its path. As she was photographing this behavior she was suddenly struck hard by the whale shark and subsequently swallowed up head first. She struggled for a brief moment to get out of its mouth and it spat her out forcefully causing her to spin in the water. She then swam over to one of the dive guides and safely ended her dive.
Fortunately, this unbelievable incident caused no injury to the shark of the diver with the exception of a minor abrasion to the back of her hand.
As you read the full article for more details its is apparent that the whales were most likely on edge/agitated. This was their second dive of the day and because of the proximity of the divers, not to mention the fact that a diver’s backward roll entry hit one of the whale sharks upon entry.
How it happened …
On the second dive, at around 11:00 am, the diver made a backwards roll entry and, upon entering the sea, hit one of the whale sharks. The group of 10 divers, (2 guides and 8 recreational divers), were spread out in the area, at a depth of 10 meters (33 ft), allowing the whale sharks to swim between them. During the dive the largest whale shark in the area began to act differently. It appeared to be swimming directly at divers with its mouth wide open. As it would get close the shark would open its mouth but multiple divers were able to swim out of its path. After being in the water for 40 minutes the diver was attempting to photograph this interaction of the whale shark and the other divers when the whale shark turned suddenly towards her. The diver recalls being hit hard by the whale shark. Then the diver was sucked into the mouth of the whale shark, head first, and half-swallowed up to her thighs. The diver struggled to escape the whale shark’s mouth for a brief moment before the shark spat the diver out, forcefully spinning her about in the water.
Read the full article for more details here on the diversalertnetwork website.