A humpback whale swallowed and then vomited a commercial lobster diver in Massachusetts on Friday. The incident happened off the coast of Cape Cod in Provincetown when Michael Packard, 56, was 45 feet underwater fishing for lobster. He said he suddenly felt a bump and the next thing was that he was enveloped in total darkness.
Packard said he first thought that a great white shark had swallowed him up, but he began to think otherwise when he did not feel any teeth or pains. He was in the mouth of the whale for about 30 seconds and managed to breathe with his scuba equipment before he was spitting out of the water where a ship crew rescued him.
“All of a sudden, I felt this huge shove and the next thing I knew it was completely black,” Packard stated. “I could sense I was moving, and I could feel the whale squeezing with the muscles in his mouth. I was completely inside [the whale]; it was completely black. I thought to myself, ‘there’s no way I’m getting out of here. I’m done, I’m dead. All I could think of was my boys, they’re 12 and 15 years old.”
Packard said he was thinking of death as the baleen on the upper jaws of the whale closed in on him. He said he feared being ingested by the huge beast as he struggled to free himself from its mouth. He said the next thing he felt was being ejected from the mouth of the animal and being thrust into the air before landing back into the waters, the Guardian writes.
“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,” Packard recalled. “I was free and I just floated there. I couldn’t believe…I’m here to tell it.”
A boat captain, Joe Francis, said he witnessed Packard “flying out of the water feet first with his flippers on” before falling back into the water. His team rushed forward to get him into the boat and then yank off his breathing tank. He was then taken to a Cape Cod hospital where he was treated and then discharged the same day. He escaped from the humpback whale with minor bruises.
Philip Hoare, an author of a book on whales said the humpback whale that swallowed Packard must be a juvenile who erroneously took him into its mouth before finding he could not be ingested. He said this is the season when juvenile humpbacks feed on sand eels at Race Point and the one which gulped him must have been a juvenile who nearly choked on its meal before spitting him out.