A Massachusetts diver looking for lobsters for others to eat almost became a meal himself.
Local lobster diver Michael Packard on Friday related what took place in the waters off the coast of Provincetown.
“I was lobster diving and A humpback whale tried to eat me. 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,” he posted on a Provincetown community Facebook group page.
After being rejected as a bit of breakfast, Packard was taken to Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, Massachusetts, and then released with what he called “a lot of soft tissue damage.”
“All of a sudden, I felt this huge shove and the next thing I knew it was completely black,” Packard said on Friday, according to the Cape Cod Times.
“I could sense I was moving, and I could feel the whale squeezing with the muscles in his mouth.”
Packard’s first thought was that a great white shark had attacked him, but he felt no teeth and could sense no obvious wounds.
“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.”
Wearing his scuba gear caused a bit of a struggle, as the whale decided that perhaps this was something less tasty than what he had expected.
Within 30 or 40 seconds, by Packard’s estimate, his chance came.
“I saw light, and he started throwing his head side to side, and the next thing I knew I was outside,” Packard said.
The diver’s sister, Cynthia Packard, said crew member Josiah Mayo saw the whale come to the surface.
“There was all this action at the top of the water,” Cynthia Packard said she was told. Then, she said, the whale appeared to spit out the lobster diver.
After the whale released Michael Packard, Mayo pulled him from the water, radioed in to shore and arranged for the diver to be taken to the hospital once they arrived back at the pier.
“Thank God, it wasn’t a white shark. He sees them all the time out there,” Cynthia Packard said. “He must have thought he was done.”
“I thought to myself: ‘OK this is it. I’m finally — I’m going to die,’” Michael Packard said, according to Boston.com.
One expert said the whale was probably young.
“Based on what was described, this would have to be a mistake and an accident on the part of the humpback,” said Jooke Robbins, director of Humpback Whale Studies at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, according to the Cape Cod Times.
Mayo described the humpback as being medium-sized, Michael Packard said. Robbins believed it to be a juvenile feeding on sand lance.
“When a humpback opens its mouth to feed, it billows out like a parachute, blocking the animal’s forward vision, which is why so many become entangled in fishing gear in their mouth and jaws,” the outlet reported.
“It is not something I have heard happening before,” Robbins said. “So many things would have had to happen to end up in the path of a feeding whale.”
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