Michael Packard was working off the coast of Provincetown, Massachusetts on Friday when he had a harrowing experience that will surely be a whale of a tale for him to tell for years to come.
According to NBC Boston, Packard, a commercial lobster diver, was in about 45 feet of water when he was swallowed by a humpback whale.
“I just want to clarify what happened to me today. I was lobster diving and A humpback whale tried to eat me,” Packard, 56, wrote in a Facebook post.
“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.” Packard went on to thank the Provincetown rescue squad for helping him.
Amazingly, Packard was released from Cape Cod Hospital with only minor injuries and was able to go home to recuperate, according to Cape Cod Times.
“I just felt this truck hit me,” Packard told NBC Boston. “And everything just went dark … I just thought, ‘Did I just get eaten by a white shark?’ And then I said, ‘No, I don’t feel any teeth.’ And I said, ‘Oh my God, I’m in the mouth of a whale. With his mouth shut.'”
White sharks have been a fixture off the coast of Cape Cod in recent summers, but encounters with whales are much more rare, according to what Charles “Stormy” Mayo, a senior scientist and whale expert at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown told the Cape Cod Times.
Packard, whose job as a diver is already a risky one, realized he was in serious trouble when he couldn’t find the regulator for his oxygen tank and had no way to escape.
Packard told NBC Boston that at the time, he thought about his family, including his wife and two sons, ages 12 and 16, and believed it was the end for him.
“This is how you’re going to go, Michael,” he said. “This is how you’re going to die. In the mouth of a whale … I just thought, ‘Am I just going to run out of air and suffocate? Is he going to swallow me?'”
Thankfully, the whale spit Packard out after what he estimated was about 30-40 seconds.
“I just got thrown out of his mouth into the water. There was white water everywhere. And I just was laying on the surface, floating.”
Packard said he was in “extreme pain” and thought his legs had been broken but that he only has a dislocated knee and “soft tissue damage” from his ordeal, which seems minor compared to the possible fate of becoming a whale’s lunch.
“The doctor says I’m good. Thank God,” he said.
Packard plans to get back in the water and continue lobster diving as soon as he’s better and hopes that will be sometime soon.