If you ever wondered what it would be like for a human to be swallowed by a humpback whale Finding Nemo style, 56-year-old lobster diver Michael Packard can now tell the tale.
Packard joined his son, Jacob, for a Reddit Ask Me Anything yesterday, where he answered all pressing questions about what happened when he was fully swallowed by a whale while off the coast of Provincetown, Massachusetts while working last Friday.
According to Packard, he was forty-five feet below the surface when he felt a shove, then he was consumed by darkness. In the AMA he says his initial thought was that it was a shark, but “due to the lack of teeth and the size of it [he] soon realized that what [he] was in was a whale.”
Packard was inside the whale’s mouth for 30-40 seconds with limited mobility while the whale struggled to spit him out. While inside the whale’s mouth the diver lost his regulator. Thankfully he found it quickly, or he most likely would have suffocated in the pitch black. Convinced he was going to die that day, the father of two shared that his potential final thoughts were about his wife and kids.
Humpback whales are not known for going after humans and Packard was likely swallowed by accident while the whale scoured for krill or small fish. Even if the whale was really determined to swallow Packard whole, it’s fist-wide throat would have prevented it. When it comes to how it the creatures’ mouth felt wrapped around his body, it’s understandably difficult for Packard to describe.
“It was full of water, and I could feel the muscles of its mouth convulsing around me, it was a really strange feeling to be sure,” Packard says. “Can’t draw a meaningful comparison.”
Packard’s friends swiftly rushed him to the Cape Cod hospital after the whale released him not too far from the boat, where he was treated for bruising and a dislocated knee. At the hospital, Packard says all the doctors and nurses stopped by to see him and hear his unbelievable story.
“One nurse came in with a notepad, she asked me for lottery numbers!” Packard says.
The series Deadliest Catch shows that trapping and fishing can be gruesome, and it’s common for lobster divers to get swept out to sea or die from the spins. However, Packard will not let his brush with death keep him from the work he’s dedicated fifteen years of his life to for too long.
“Speaking as Jacob, I don’t even need to ask this,” his son says. “I have no doubt in my mind he will do everything he can to keep diving, it’s his life and passion.”