‘I was completely inside’: Lobster diver swallowed by humpback whale – Real Life Jonah?

It’s rare for a fisherman to be swallowed whole by a humpback whale, but that’s exactly what happened to Michael Packard while diving for lobsters off Provincetown. Initially, he thought he was in the mouth of a great white shark, but realized he couldn’t feel any teeth.

Around 8 am on Friday, Packard, an experienced and licensed commercial lobster diver, entered the water for his second dive of the day.

What is Lobster Diving?

Lobster diving involves diving underwater to catch lobsters using ropes and baskets, metal tongs, or spears.

Packard Became Part of the Food Chain That Day

“All of a sudden, I felt this huge shove and the next thing I knew it was completely black,” Packard recounted from his hospital bed. “I could sense I was moving, and I could feel the whale squeezing with the muscles in its mouth.”

At first, Packard thought he was in the mouth of a great white shark, but then he realized he couldn’t feel any teeth. That’s when he understood he was inside a whale.

“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.”

What Happened After Packard Realized He Was Inside the Whale

Packard had his scuba gear on and began struggling. The whale started shaking its head, indicating it wasn’t enjoying its unintended meal. Packard estimates he was inside the whale for about 30 to 40 seconds before it resurfaced.

The Whale Spits Him Out

“I saw light, and it started throwing its head side to side, and the next thing I knew I was outside in the water,” Packard described.

Josiah Mayo, a crewman, saw Packard being spit out and retrieved him. Mayo then radioed the Provincetown Pier, where a local fire department ambulance took Packard to Cape Cod Hospital.

“Thank God, it wasn’t a white shark. He sees them all the time out there,” said Cynthia Packard, Michael Packard’s sister. “He must have thought he was done.”

What Do Humpback Whales Normally Eat?

Humpback whales are known for their large songs and majestic leaps out of the water. Their diet includes krill, anchovy, sand lance, herring, mackerels, mullets, smelts, and other small fish. They have also been observed taking on larger prey like bluefin tuna or even great white sharks.

How Big Was This Humpback Whale?

Mayo suspects this was a juvenile humpback of medium size, likely feeding on sand lance near where Packard was diving.

How Do Humpback Whales Eat?

Humpback whales open their mouths and expand their throats to make room for large prey. They then push their tongues forward, press it against the roof of their mouths, and move the prey back through the gullet into an esophagus that leads to the stomach.

How Big Are Humpback Whales and Are They Dangerous?

Female humpback whales can grow to 49–52 feet, while males reach 43–46 feet. Humpbacks are not usually considered dangerous, and reports of them injuring swimmers and divers are extremely rare.

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