A commercial lobster diver was swallowed whole by a humpback whale off the coast of Cape Cod on Friday morning but miraculously survived to tell his story after the creature coughed him out. Michael Packard, 56, who had been a commercial lobster diver out of Provincetown, Massachusetts for over 40 years, told that he was about 45 feet deep in the waters off Provincetown when "all of a sudden I felt this huge bump, and everything went dark".
At first, Packard thought that he was attacked by a shark but soon realized that it is a whale after he didn't feel any sharp teeth and was not in pain. Luckily he survived the attack and was treated at Cape Cod hospital before being discharged on Friday.
Brush with Death
Packard was about 45 feet below the surface near Herring Cove Beach at 8 am on Friday when the giant whale tried attacked him. He was soon to realize that it was a whale and not a share as he was fast getting swallowed inside. "I realized, oh my God, I'm in a whale's mouth ... and he's trying to swallow me," Packard told WBZ-TV following the encounter. "And I thought to myself OK, this is it - I'm finally - I'm gonna die."
Packard was struggling but was helpless. He estimates that he was in the whale's mouth for nearly 30 seconds, but continued to breathe because he still had his breathing apparatus in. However, there was no way he could force himself out of the whale's mouth.
Soon he started to think about his wife and his 12 and 15 year old sons, and began to struggle inside the beast's mouth until, he said, he saw a light and the whale started shaking his head side-to side.
"I just got thrown in the air and landed in the water," Packard recounted to the outlet. "I was free and I just floated there. I couldn't believe... I'm here to tell it."
Packard's boating pal, Josiah Mayo, saw water spraying as the sea creature surfaced and Packard was ejected, the Cape Cod paper reported. Mayo then rescued him to the shore and rushed him to a hospital, where he was treated for soft tissue damage to his leg.
The Provincetown Fire Department later confirmed that a call came in about a diver who had suffered serious injuries to his legs "after interacting with a whale."
At first Packard said, he thought he had broken his legs in the incident, but doctors later told that he just had soft tissue damage and bruises, and he was released from a local hospital later that day. In a following Facebook post, Packard thanked the Provincetown rescue squad for its "caring and help."
Charles "Stormy" Mayo, a senior scientist and whale expert at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, told the outlet that such human-whale encounters are rare.
Amazingly, Packard said he feels just fine after his remarkable, Pinocchio-style getaway.
"I'm good overall," he said.
Peter Corkeron, a senior scientist at the New England Aquarium, said that it is extremely rare to be swallowed by a humpback whale, estimating there is a one in 1 trillion chance someone would be eaten by a whale.
When a humpback feeds, he said, "they do what we call gulp feeding, and they an open their mouths up incredibly widely," which Jooke Robbins, the director of Humpback Whales Studies at the Center for Coastal Studies, said could limit their forward vision.
"He was just unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time," Corkeron asserted.