Terrified diver swallowed whole by 60,000lb whale who had mistaken him for food
A lobster diver told of the moment he thought he was going to die after a humpback whale mistook him for food and attempted to swallow him whole.
Michael Packard, 56, from Wellfleet, Massachusetts, first thought he had been attacked by a shark – which are common in the Cape Cod area – but noticed he did not feel any teeth.
He recounted how he was about 45ft down on Friday morning when he said he “felt this huge bump, and everything went dark”.
“Then I realised, oh my God, I’m in a whale’s mouth… and he’s trying to swallow me,” he said, adding that he thought: “This is it, I’m gonna die.”
He was inside the 60,000lb humpback whale’s mouth for about 30 seconds but said he was still able to breathe using his equipment.
Mr Packard said: “All of a sudden he went up to the surface and just erupted and started shaking his head. I just got thrown in the air and landed in the water.
“I was free and I just floated there. I couldn’t believe – I’m here to tell it.”
He said he thought about his children and wife before he ended up being rescued by a crew mate in the boat and was later treated at Cape Cod Hospital.
On Facebook, he wrote: “Hi everyone. I just want to clarify what happened to me today. I was lobster diving and a humpback whale tried to eat me.
“I was in his closed mouth for about 30 to 40 seconds before he rose to the surface and spit me out. I am very bruised up but have no broken bones.
“I want to thank the Provincetown rescue squad for their caring and help.”
His sister, Cynthia Packard, originally told the Cape Cod Times that her brother broke a leg during the incident but he said that his legs were just bruised.
Charles ‘Stormy’ Mayo, a senior scientist and whale expert at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, told the same newspaper that human-whale encounters like this are rare.
Humpbacks are not known to be aggressive and Mr Mayo thinks it was an accidental encounter while the whale was feeding.
“Based on what was described, this would have to be a mistake and an accident on the part of the humpback,” added Jooke Robbins, director of Humpback Whale Studies at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, told the Cape Cod Times.