This week a Massachusetts lobster fisherman on Cape Cod was swallowed and then spit out by a humpback whale while diving down to check his traps. Michael Packard is recovering after miraculously spending nearly a minute in the maw of a humpback whale who mistook him for a snack.
“I was lobster diving, and a humpback whale tried to eat me,” Packard wrote on Facebook.
“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.”
Packard’s mother told the Boston Herald, “He was in a whale’s mouth for 30 to 40 seconds, and then he was spit out.”
“I realized I’m in a whale’s mouth, and he’s trying to swallow me,” the lucky survivor told the local TV station. “I was completely inside; it was completely black.”
Luckily for Packard, whales like to stick to their traditional diet and don’t like exotic snacks like human sushi.
Humpback whales usually feed on shrimp-like crustaceans (krill) and small fish, straining huge volumes of ocean water through their baleen plates, which act as a filter.
Although humpback whales frequent BC waters, local fishers and whale watchers shouldn’t worry because experts say whales don’t actually eat people.
Scientists say whale-eats-man behaviour is “essentially unheard of, and likely is just a freak incident — a fluke if you will — in which an open-mouthed whale and a diving man happened to be in the same place at the same time.”
Packard’s crewmate Josiah Mayo witnessed the incident. He has been quoted as saying he saw the whale burst to the surface, and that he initially thought it was a great white shark.
According to Mayo, the whale splashed around when it surfaced, then flung Packard out of its mouth. Mayo scooped the fortunate fisherman out of the sea, called to shore for assistance and sped back to the Provincetown pier. A Provincetown Fire Department ambulance took Packard to Cape Cod Hospital.
Packard was later released from the hospital with bumps and bruises and no serious injuries.
“He’s but doing pretty well, all things considered,” his mother told the local news. “He doesn’t have any broken bones…he’s terribly fortunate.”
This isn’t the first time Packard has survived a death-defying incident. He walked away from a nasty plane crash years ago in Costa Rica when he was fishing there.
His mother says, “He’s blessed, I guess.”