On June 11, commercial lobster diver Michael Packàrd was nearly swallowed whole by a humpback whale off the coast of Provincetown, Massachusetts. 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. 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. Packàrd initially thought a great white shark had attacked him.

“Then I felt around, and I realized there was no teeth, and I had felt, really, no great pain,” . “Then I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m in a whale’s mouth.'” “I’m in a whale’s mouth, and he wants to get me.”

Packàrd began to move around inside the whale while his scuba gear and breathing gear were still on. He was trying to get out. As Packàrd saw it, it took the whale about 30 to 40 seconds to start moving its head from side to side.

‘This is how you’re going to go, Michael,'” This is how you’ll die. He tells Jaclyn Peiser of the Washington Post, “In the mouth of a whale.”

Then, it resurfaced.

“He threw me out of his mouth and into the water. There was white water everywhere,” “All I did was float on the surface and see his tail. Then he went back down.” “Oh my God, I got out of that,” I thought. I made it.'”

Someone on Pàckard’s crew, Josiah Mayo, saw the whale spit him back out in a huge eruption of white water that bubbled and fizzed.

“It took [Packàrd] from behind, and it seemed like it fully enveloped him immediately,” said Mayo. “That’s kind of remarkable, and so we can only imagine the whale was probably feeding.”

When humpback whales feed, they use their wide, flapping mouths to catch fish. Jooke Robbins, a marine biologist at the University of Massachusetts, told the New York Times that before they eat their catch, they filter out water through their baleen plates. Robbins is in charge of the Humpback Whale Studies Program at the Center for Coastal Studies. The CEO of the non-profit Ocean Alliance, Iain Kerr, told NPR that it’s possible that Packàrd was in the wrong place at the wrong time and got sucked into the whale’s mouth as it dove for a school of fish.

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