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A lobster diver survived after being swallowed alive by a humpback whale in an extremely rare encounter

Jun 12, 2021, 12:57 IST
  • A man was diving for lobster Friday when he says he was swallowed by a humpback whale.
  • He said he was inside the mammal for 30 to 40 seconds before it spit him out, leaving him with bruises.
  • Whales are not aggressive and such incidents are rare - experts said it was probably an accident.

A man trying to catch lobster Friday morning was caught himself by a humpback whale when it swallowed him whole in a highly unusual encounter.

Michael Packard said he was out diving for lobsters off Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown, Massachusetts, when he suddenly found himself inside a whale.

"All of a sudden, I felt this huge shove and the next thing I knew it was completely black," Packard, a longtime lobster diver, told the Cape Cod Times. "I could sense I was moving, and I could feel the whale squeezing with the muscles in his mouth."

He told the newspaper he realized he had been swallowed after first thinking he was inside a great white shark, but then noticed he did not have any apparent wounds. He estimated he was inside the mammal for 30 to 40 seconds.

Packard said he was thinking "there's no way I'm getting out of here. I'm done, I'm dead," and of his family.


"Then all of a sudden [the whale] went up to the surface and just erupted and started shaking his head. I just got thrown in the air and landed in the water," Packard told CBS affiliate WBZ. "I was free and I just floated there. I couldn't believe... I'm here to tell it."

Packard's crewman saw the whale surface and spit him out and was able to pull him out of the water. Packard survived the incident with only bruises.

Jooke Robbins, director of Humpback Whale Studies at the Center for Coastal Studies, told the Cape Cod Times the incident was probably an accident for the whale.

Humpback whales are not aggressive animals and they do not eat humans. They typically eat krill, which are shrimp-like crustaceans, and small fish, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Robbins said she guessed the whale might have been eating sand lace, a small fish, and mistakenly scooped up Packard possibly due to the way their vision can be obstructed when they open their mouths to feed.

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