A Unusual England lobsterman has described the moment he realised he was trapped in the mouth of a humpback whale off the coast of Cape Cod.
“Oh my God, I’m in a whale’s mouth and he’s trying to swallow me. I thought to myself, ‘good day, here is it. I’m finally going to die. There’s no getting out of here,’’’ Michael Packard advised a local information station in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Packard, 56, was 45ft down off Race Point in search of lobsters when the feeding whale, presumed to be a juvenile, took him. He said he “felt this gargantuan bump and everything went dark”.
At first the fisherman assumed he had been attacked by a great white [shark] but he may find no teeth. “It was happening so fast,” Packard said. “My only thought was easy how you can gather out of that mouth.”
Partially ingested in the leviathan’s maw, and surrounded by a curtain of filtering baleen, Packard said he saved breathing into the regulator of his scuba tank.
“I realised there was no overcoming a beast of that measurement. He was going to finish with me what he wanted to finish. He was going to spit me out or swallow me.”
Later, during the half-minute ordeal, Packard said he began to consider his situation extra clearly: “Here I am, I’m breathing air. Am I going to be breathing air in this whale’s mouth except it runs out? Crazy stuff.”
The whale thought greater.
“All of a surprising he went as a lot as the surface and moral erupted and started shaking his head. I moral got thrown in the air and landed in the water,” Packard recalled. “I was free and I moral floated there. I couldn’t imagine … I’m here to repeat it.”
Boat captain Joe Francis, who had been following Packard’s bubbles, advised CBS Boston: “I saw Mike advance flying out of the water feet first with his flippers on and land back in the water. I jumped aboard the boat. We got him up, got his tank off. Purchased him on the deck and calmed him down and he goes, ‘Joe, I was in the mouth of a whale.’ He goes ‘I can’t imagine it, I was in the mouth of a whale, Joe!’”
Packard was taken to hospital and discharged later that day. “He’s damn fortunate to be alive,” Francis added.
Philip Hoare, author of Leviathan and Albert and the Whale: Albrecht Dürer and How Art Imagines Our World, and a ideal friend of Packard and his fishing partner Josiah Mayo, says the humpback was almost certainly as greatly stunned as the diver.
Hoare says Herring Cove beach, adjacent to Race Point and the place the incident took place, is shallow and known for gatherings of youngster humpbacks feeding on sand eels at this time of year.
Whales have miserable forward vision, he neatly-known. “Mike would have been down there collecting lobsters, and the whale, trying to swallow sand eels, would have chanced on he had a diver in his mouth whereas she or he was dragging in a gargantuan volume of water.”
But sooner than the whale may push the water out via the baleen filter – and lick the sand eels off with the tongue – the individual would have chanced on Packard. Since a humpback’s esophagus won’t accept anything larger than a melon, the whale would probably have panicked. “This young humpback is hanging out, it really hasn’t learned easy how you can feed properly and doing unimaginative things, and he’s in disaster.
“He’s gulped Michael and now has this gargantuan thing in mouth. That can be totally freaky for a whale, so it’s gone as a lot as the surface, and in a human way, vomited him out. The last thing a whale wants in its mouth is something so gargantuan it would choke it.
“Michael is inside the whale, and God is aware of what he’s thinking, but anyone on the Cape is aware of the area with great whites. “They are there, and they’re gargantuan, and three of us have been attacked – one fatally – in the past year,” says Hoare.
Hoare says Packard will seemingly be transformed in to mythic figure in Provincetown – “the Jonah who came back. He’ll never have pay for another drink for the remainder of his life.” The film-maker John Waters, a seasonal resident of Provincetown, had been in touch. “Are you jealous, and finish you imagine it?” Waters wrote.