His name isn’t Jonah, but one man was nearly swallowed by a whale off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass. And now commercial lobster diver Michael Packard is sharing what it’s like to end up in the mouth of a humpback.
Michael thought he was “going to die” in the mouth of the whale.
His first thought was that he’d been attacked by one of the white sharks common to the Cape Cod area. But then he realized that whatever had him captive didn’t have teeth. “I said, ‘Oh my god, I’m in the mouth of a whale.’”
As the humpback thrashed Michael around in its mouth, he lost his breathing regulator. “This is how you’re going to die. In the mouth of a whale,” he recalls thinking.
Believing the end was nigh, Michael thought about his wife, sons, mother, and the rest of his family. “I just was struggling, but I knew this was this massive creature, there was no way I was going to bust myself out of there,” he said.
After more than 30 excruciating seconds, the whale tossed Michael out of its mouth and even out of the water. “I was just laying on the surface floating and saw his tail, and he went back down, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, I got out of that, I survived,’” he said.
His crew mate saw the whole thing.
Josiah Mayo, Micheal’s crew mate, watched the encounter from their boat. “It was just a huge splash and kind of thrashing around,” Josiah told 10 Boston. “I saw Michael kind of pop up within the mess and the whale disappeared.”
And harbormaster Don German initially thought the story was too strange to be believed. “Honestly, we all kind of thought, ‘OK, this is farfetched,’ but then, when we got word from the injured gentleman, we realized it was an actual incident.”
Dr. Jooke Robbins of the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Mass., told 10 Boston that whales lunge through the water with their mouths open to take fish into their mouth. “If something lies directly in the path of a lunge feeding humpback whale, the whale might not always be able to detect it or avoid it in time,” he explained. “For example, some entanglements in fishing gear begin this way and can threaten the life of the whale.”
Cheating death is becoming a habit for the diver.
Miraculously, Michael only suffered a dislocated knee and soft tissue damage in his tangle with a humpback whale. And now he’s raring to recover and get back into the water, 10 Boston reports.
Even more miraculously, Michael survived another brush with death two decades ago: He was badly injured in a 2001 plane crash in Costa Rica, suffering severe injuries to his face and multiple broken bones in his arms and legs, according to the Cape Cod Times.
“In Costa Rica, they call me Milagro Mike, and now I’m times two, here,” he said to 10 Boston.
Here’s wishing the guy a less dramatic life from here on!