When veteran lobster diver Michael Packard entered the cold waters off the shore of Provincetown for his second dive of the day Friday morning, he said he felt a shove — the next thing I knew it was completely black.
Packard had been swallowed whole by a humpback 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.”
The 56-year-old diver said while he was in the whale, he could sense he was moving and the whale was squeezing the muscles in its mouth.
Packard wore scuba gear on his dive, and as he struggled, the whale began shaking its head — Packard could tell the whale didn’t like it, the Tennessean reports. He estimated he was in the whale for 30 to 40 seconds before the whale finally surfaced.
“I saw light, and he started throwing his head side to side, and the next thing I knew I was outside [of the whale’s mouth],” he said.
Packard said he first thought it was a great white shark, and so did his crewman. The crewman said the whale flung Packard back into the sea and he was able to come to get him with the boat — he then called for help. A Provincetown Fire Department ambulance took him to Cape Cod Hospital.
“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, per the Tennessean. Humpbacks are not aggressive animals, particularly toward humans, she said.
Packard was released from Cape Cod Hospital Friday afternoon with what he described as “a lot of soft tissue damage” but no broken bones.
He told the Tennessean he’d return to diving as soon as he was healed.