A commercial lobster diver caught in the mouth of a humpback whale off the Cape Cod coast Friday morning said he thought he would die.
Michael Packard, 56, of Wellfleet, told WBZ-TV after he was released from Cape Cod hospital that he was about 14 feet deep in the water off Provincetown when “suddenly I felt this huge bump and everything went dark” .
He thought he had been attacked by a shark common in the waters of the area, but then realized that he could not feel any teeth and he was in no pain.
“Then I realized, oh my God, I’m in a whale’s mouth … and he’s trying to swallow me,” he said. “And I thought to myself OK, that’s it – I am finally – I’m going to die.” His thoughts went to his wife and children.
He estimates he was in the whale’s mouth for about 30 seconds, but continued to breathe because he still had his breathing apparatus inside.
Then the whale appeared, shook his head and spat him out. He was rescued by his crew member in the surface boat.
His sister, Cynthia Packard, originally told the Cape Cod Times that her brother broke a leg, but he later said his leg is just bruised.
Charles “Stormy” Mayo, a senior researcher and whale expert at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, told the newspaper that such encounters between humans and whales are rare.
Humpback whales are not aggressive, and Mayo believes it was an accidental encounter while the whale was feeding fish, probably sand lances.