A commercial lobsterman has described a highly unusual encounter, saying he thought he was going to die when he was swallowed whole by a humpback whale off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on Friday morning. Michael Packard, 56, wrote on Facebook that he was in the humpback whale’s closed mouth for about 30-40 seconds before the large rorqual species rose to the surface and spit him out.
«A humpback whale tried to eat me…I am very bruised up but have no broken bones,» wrote Packard.
Speaking to CBS affiliate WBZ-TV, Packard, whose job is to pluck lobsters off the sandy bottom, said that he was about 45 deep in waters off Provincetown he suddenly “ felt this huge bump, and everything went dark”. At first, the diver feared that he was attacked by a shark but lack of teeth made him reconsider.
“And then I realised, ‘Oh my God I’m in a whale’s mouth…and he’s trying to swallow me’,” he told WBZ-TV after being released from the hospital.
Packard said he thought about his kids and wife and told himself, “[t]his is it, I’m gonna die.”
As soon as the lobsterman began to struggle, the humpback whale, he said, went up to the surface and started shaking his head. “I just got thrown in the air and landed in the water,” Packard recalled. “I was free and I just floated there. I couldn’t believe. . . I’m here to tell it.”
Captain Joe Francis, who was heading a fishing charter nearby, told the local news channel that he had a front to witness the escape as he saw Packard come flying out of the water “feet first with his flippers on and land back in the water.” “We got him up, got his tank off. Got him on the deck and calmed him down and he goes, ‘Joe, I was in the mouth of a whale’ he goes ‘I can’t believe it, I was in the mouth of a whale Joe!’,” said Francis.
Jooke Robbins, director of humpback whale studies at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Massachusetts, told news agency AFP that she had no reason to doubt the story. «I didn’t think it was a hoax because I knew the people involved… So I have every reason to believe that what they say is true,» she said, adding that whales have large mouths but throats so narrow that they wouldn’t be able to swallow a human.
(With agency inputs)