by Elizabeth Gamillo/Smithsonianmag.com
On June 11, commercial lobster diver Michael Packàrd was nearly swallowed whole by a humpback whale off the coast of Provincetown, Massachusetts, reports Doug Fraser for the Cape Cod Times. The encounter only lasted about 30 seconds before the whale resurfaced and belched out Packàrd. Once back into the water, Packàrd’s crewmates pulled him to safety and immediately transported him to Cape Cod Hospital, reports Rachel Treisman for NPR. Except for serious bruising and a dislocated knee, Packàrd escaped virtually unscathed.
The once-in-a-lifetime encounter occurred while Packàrd was about 45 feet deep into the water searching for lobsters. Then, he felt a huge push, almost like a “truck hit me and everything just went dark,” he said in an interview with WBTS. Packàrd initially thought a great white shark had attacked him, the Cape Cod Times reports.
“Then I felt around, and I realized there was no teeth, and I had felt, really, no great pain,” recounted Packàrd to WBZ-TV News. “And then I realized, ‘Oh my God, I’m in a whale’s mouth. I’m in a whale’s mouth, and he’s trying to swallow me.”