Humpback whale gulps and spits out Cape Cod lobsterman

·2 min read

A US lobsterman has been describing how he escaped being swallowed by a humpback whale.

Michael Packard says he was diving when he ended up in the marine giant's mouth for about 30-40 seconds off Provincetown, Massachusetts.

The leviathan spat him out and Mr Packard was left with nothing more than a suspected dislocated knee.

Despite his wife's pleas to get another job, he has no plans of giving up a 40-year career diving off Cape Cod.

Humpback whales can grow to as long as 50ft (15m) and weigh about 36 tons. According to the World Wildlife Fund, their global population is about 60,000.

Mr Packard, 56, told the Cape Cod Times he and his crewmate took their boat, the Ja'n J, off Herring Cove on Friday morning where conditions were excellent, with water visibility at about 20ft.

He told WBZ-TV News that after jumping off the vessel in scuba gear into the water, he "felt this huge bump and everything went dark".

'He's trying to swallow me'

He thought he had been attacked by one of the great white sharks that swim in the area, "and then I felt around and I realised there was no teeth".

"And then I realised: 'Oh my God, I'm in a whale's mouth and he's trying to swallow me. This is it, I'm going die'."

Mr Packard says he thought about his wife and two boys, aged 12 and 15.

"Then 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."

His topside crewmate, who had been desperately scanning the water for telltale bubbles from Mr Packard's oxygen respirator, hauled him back into the boat.

Provincetown Fire Department confirmed to CBS News they had responded to a call at 08:15 local time (12:15 GMT) to help an injured lobsterman at a Provincetown beach.

Journalists interviewed Mr Packard about his Biblical ordeal after he was discharged from Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis.

Humpback whales tend to feed by opening their mouth wide to gulp down as much prey, like fish or krill, as possible, leading marine scientists to speculate that what happened to Mr Packard was in all likelihood purely accidental. One expert told the Cape Cod Times it was practically unheard of for a whale to swallow a human.

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