Incredible moment when a father is thrown overboard by a WAL and almost swallowed when the animal hits the boat with its mouth open and looks for food from South Africa
- Marino Gherbavaz, 51, took his family on a whale watching tour
- The 22-year-old daughter Gillian was filmed when dolphins were hunting sardines off the coast of South Africa
- Suddenly a whale appeared to take a swig of fish and slammed into their boat
- Marino was thrown overboard and almost landed in the whale’s mouth
A whale hunting for food off the coast of South Africa, almost more than it could chew, after knocking an unfortunate father off a sightseeing boat and nearly swallowing him.
51-year-old Marino Gherbavaz was on a whale-watching tour with 22-year-old daughter Gillian and the rest of his family in Algoa Bay when the dramatic scene unfolded on April 3.
Gillian said they were watching a pod of herd dolphin sardines to a bait ball when a whale emerged from the deep to take a swig of fish and hit the boat.
Gillian Gherbavaz, 22, was filming dolphins eating sardines off the coast of South Africa when a whale suddenly appeared to take a sip of fish and hit the boat she was on
Marino Gherbavaz, Gillian’s father, was thrown overboard in the chaos and almost into the whale’s open mouth (picture)
At first Gillian thought they had hit a stone, but when she looked around she saw the whale lock in the water.
But in the midst of the excitement she hadn’t seen her father being thrown overboard, and it was a few moments before she realized he was in the water.
Luckily another boat was in the area and was able to help out of the water alongside Marino before the whale returned.
Whales usually feed on small marine life such as sardines and plankton and do not hunt larger animals such as humans.
However, they have been known to accidentally ingest larger creatures such as birds while taking part in hunts.
Gillian from Gqeberha, South Africa said: “When I realized it was my father in the water, I panicked. I couldn’t understand why he was in the ocean.
“He’s not usually the type to make a spectacle, so I was very confused. When I knew he was fine and I could swim to the boat on my own, I relaxed.
“The whale and dolphins had moved on so I saw no imminent danger.
‘When he was back in the boat, I went to him and said, “What did you do this for?” and we both laughed so I knew he was fine.
Recalling the events that led her father to go overboard, she said, “A giant pod of common dolphins rounded the fish into a bait ball, and the fish tried to use the boat for cover, and then left the whale on a lunge and hit us.
Mr Gherbavaz was allowed to splash around in the waters of Algoa Bay until another boat arrived to bring him back to safety
Gillian said she and her father were quick to joke about the incident, but it took her mother longer to calm down
“I honestly thought we hit a rock before I saw the clasp. It felt like the boat stopped like a car and there was a loud bang.
“There was another rubber dinghy at the construction site, and they came to help my father. It was very quick and he was back in the boat before I could really worry.
“I was relieved to see him laugh at what had happened, and we quickly started discussing how he had ended up in the water. It took my mother a little longer to realize that he was okay.
“We had made it around all three islands in the bay and were about to go home when the charter received information about the sardines and whale sightings, so the crew took us out to see them.
“We’d been out since about 8am, arriving where the whale was at around 11:30, and shortly after the whale hit the boat in the middle of a feeding frenzy.
“My whole family was on the boat, my aunt and uncle. We did a similar trip in December and loved it so much we decided to go back. We will probably go many more times in the future. ‘
Raggy Charters, who organized Gillian’s trip, has been running in South Africa since 1992 and is the oldest company on the Marine Eco Tour combined with a nature conservation project in the country.
Owner Lloyd Edwards said, “Luckily the whale didn’t hit us in the middle or the boat would have been in real trouble. It was a fleeting blow to the side.
The whale was eager to get to the sardines, which had been herded into a bait ball by the mean dolphins that chased it along the coast.
“It still left a hole in the boat, but we’ve already fixed that and filed a report with the Coast Guard immediately. We have a 100% safety record. ‘