Michael Packard has a whale of a story to tell: he escaped from the mouth of a humpback whale early Friday morning.
The 56-year-old lobster diver
jumped from his boat
near Provincetown, Massachusetts
, around 8 a.m. to check one of his traps.
Packard was 45 feet beneath the ocean
's surface when he "felt this huge bump and everything went dark," he told CBS affiliate WBZ in Boston
Packard said he initially thought he was being attacked by a shark
, but after noticing a lack of sharp teeth, he realized he was in the mouth of a whale, which he believes was attempting to swallow him.
“All of a sudden, I felt this huge shove, and the next thing I knew, it was completely black
,” Packard told the Cape Cod Times. “I thought to myself, ‘there's no way I'm getting out of here. I'm done, I'm dead.' All I could think about was my boys, who are 12 and 15 years old.”
Packard, who was still breathing through his regulator, said he struggled to get free, which apparently caused the whale to shake its head, and that the animal surfaced and ejected him from its mouth within 30 or 40 seconds.
Josiah Mayo, Packard's shipmate, claims he saw Packard being thrown from the whale and fished him out of the water
“My first thought was, I can't believe I got out of that situation,” Packard told the Cape Cod Times.
Packard was taken to a nearby hospital, but his injuries were found to be less severe than he had initially suspected, with only extensive soft tissue damage.
The New England
Aquarium's marine mammal expert Peter Corkeron told the Boston Herald that whales
like the one Packard claims he encountered are "gulp feeders" who "slurp up as much as they can and then swallow it down."
Corkeron believes the whale was only looking for food
and had no intention of turning Packard into breakfast.
He also claimed that there is evidence that humpback whales can be "altruistic" toward humans, which could explain why the creature swam to the surface before spitting out Packard.
“It’s completely understandable that the whale was attempting to assist him,” Corkeron said.