Michael Packard of Massachusetts said the incident occurred early Friday morning while he was lobster fishing off Cape Cod

By Jason Duaine Hahn
June 11, 2021 07:44 PM
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Credit: Kohei Ueno / Bacroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty

One Massachusetts fisherman came back with a whale of a tale after a diving trip this week.

Diver Michael Packard told the Cape Cod Times he became trapped inside the mouth of a humpback whale after he jumped into the waters off Cape Cod on Friday morning. The 56-year-old was heading toward the bottom of the seafloor to grab lobsters when he says he was suddenly engulfed in darkness.

"All of a sudden, I felt this huge shove and the next thing I knew it was completely black," Packard told the outlet while getting treatment at Cape Cod Hospital. "I could sense I was moving, and I could feel the whale squeezing with the muscles in his mouth."

Packard told the Times he initially believed he was being eaten by a great white shark, but could not feel any of the animal's teeth.

"I was completely inside (the whale); it was completely black," Packard claimed. "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."

After 30 to 40 seconds, the whale surfaced and let Packard out of its mouth, he said.

"I saw light, and he started throwing his head side-to-side and the next thing I knew I was outside (in the water)," Packard recalled.

The incident was reportedly witnessed by Packard's mate, Josiah Mayo, who retrieved him and called for help.

In an interview with WBZ-TV, Packard said all that crossed his mind for those few desperate seconds was how he was going to make it out of the situation alive.

"It was happening so fast," he said. "My only thought was how to get out of that mouth."

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In a post on the Provincetown Community Space Facebook page, Packard thanked the rescuers who helped him following the encounter.

"I was lobster diving and A humpback whale tried to eat me," Packard wrote. "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."

Fortunately, other than experiencing the ride of his life, Packard was in no danger of being eaten. Humpback whales mainly feed on squid, krill, salmon, and other small fish, and according to LiveScience, the only whale capable of swallowing a human is a sperm whale, which is also known to eat giant squid.

Peter Corkeron, a scientist at the New England Aquarium, called Packard's incident with the whale a "one-in-a-trillion" occurrence.

"It's a very unusual accident," he told WBZ-TV. "This is a one in a - goodness knows what - trillion chance. ...He was just unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time."