A lobster diver is opening up about his terrifying experience after he spent nearly 40 seconds inside the mouth of a humpback whale.
On Friday, 56-year-old Michael Packard, 56, was on the coast of Provincetown, Mass., as he was picking up lobsters 35 feet underwater during the early morning hours. At that point, he claims the whale swallowed him.
“All of a sudden, I felt this huge shove, and the next thing I knew it was completely black,” Packard recently told the Cape Cod Times. “I could sense I was moving, and I could feel the whale squeezing with the muscles in his mouth.”
At first, he said he thought he was stuck inside a shark, but then he realized that since he didn’t feel any teeth, then it had to be something else. “I was completely inside; it was completely black,” Packard said. “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.”
According to Packard, he also believes he was inside the sea creature for up to 30-40 horrific seconds. Inside, he struggled as much as he could to get out of the whale, which eventually worked.
Then, finally, the whale made its way to the surface. Above water, crewman Josiah Mayo reportedly saw the whale jump to the surface, and Packard claims it finally spit him out.
Experienced Diver Spends 30-40 Terrifying Seconds Inside Whale
“Thank God, it wasn’t a white shark. He sees them all the time out there,” said his sister Cynthia Packard. “He must have thought he was done.”
Charles “Stormy” Mayo is a senior scientist and whale expert at the Center for Coastal Studies. According to Mayo, he’s “not aware of a single incident of people having problems with” humpback whales in areas where they swim or dive around them.
“Michael is a smart guy and an exceptional diver,” Stormy Mayo said. “For that to happen to him, you can be sure he did everything he was supposed to do.”
After going to the hospital to get checked out, doctors eventually released from Cape Cod Hospital on Friday. Unfortunately, they determined that he suffered soft tissue damage, but luckily, he didn’t have any broken bones after the incident.
While injuries or deaths from whales are uncommon, any interaction with the wild always has its risks.
“One of the biggest things is…things can happen. It’s not that the animals are doing anything on purpose. There can be a little bit of unpredictability,” said Tonya Wimmer, Manager Species Conservation, Oceans with WWF Canada.
“There is a chance that things can happen and completely unexpectedly. Not at the fault of the person driving the boat or anyone in the area, but it’s just that in that particular area it is a quite heavily used areas for gray whales.”