A lobster diver says he thought he was going to die after getting caught in a humpback whale’s mouth.
Michael Packard recalled how he had jumped off his boat near the Cape Cod coast in Massachusetts on Friday morning and was about 45ft down when he “felt this huge bump, and everything went dark”.
At first he believed he had been attacked by a shark, which are common in that area, but then it dawned on him he could not feel any teeth.
“Then I realised, oh my God, I’m in a whale’s mouth… and he’s trying to swallow me,” he told WBZ-TV News.
Mr Packard, 56, of Wellfleet, Massachusetts, said he was thinking “this is it, I’m gonna die”.
He thought about his children and wife and feared he would not be getting out.
Despite being inside for about half a minute he was able to breathe because he still had his breathing equipment.
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Mr Packard recalled: “All of a sudden he 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.
“I was free and I just floated there. I couldn’t believe. . . I’m here to tell it.”
He ended up being rescued by his crewmate in the boat, and was later treated in Cape Cod Hospital.
On Facebook, he posted a statement saying: “Hi everyone. I just want to clarify what happened to me today. I was lobster diving and a humpback whale tried to eat me.
“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.
“I want to thank the Provincetown rescue squad for their caring and help.”
His sister, Cynthia Packard, originally told the Cape Cod Times that her brother broke a leg, but he said later that his legs were just bruised.
Charles ‘Stormy’ Mayo, a senior scientist and whale expert at the Centre for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, told the newspaper that such human-whale encounters are rare.
Humpbacks are not aggressive and Mr Mayo thinks it was an accidental encounter while the whale was feeding.