Whale swallowed lobster fisherman survives unscathed

A diver, a lobster fisherman had a hell of a fright Friday, after a chance encounter with a humpback whale. The cetacean swallowed it before spitting it out after thirty long seconds. 

It is a story worthy of a famous biblical account that lived Michael packard, an American fisherman, last Friday.

He was fishing for lobster in Massachusetts off Provincetown, when at about 13 meters deep (45 feet of water) he felt "a huge bump" and "everything got dark," he told WBZ, a television channel associated with CNN. The man reports that he could feel he was still moving, he wondered if he had been bitten by a shark, before remembering that he had not felt any pain. It was then that he realized he was in a whale's mouth:

"And then I realized: 'Oh my god I'm in a whale's mouth. I'm in a whale's mouth, and it's trying to swallow me. ' "

The American, who is an experienced diver, still had his oxygen cylinders at that time. During the thirty seconds he spent in the cetacean's mouth, the man believed he was going to die.

"I thought to myself, I'm going to breathe into this whale's mouth until there is no more air and then I'm going to die."

He then thought of his wife and children, convinced that there was no way out of there. However, after several tens of seconds, the whale resurfaced and spat out the diver. It was thrown into the air before landing in the water, finally free!

"I couldn't believe it" he reports, "I couldn't believe that I was out of it and yet I'm here to tell it." He was then rescued and then rushed to a nearby hospital. Michael Packard, still in shock, came out bruised but “whole”.

CNN reports biologist Jooke Robbins, director of humpback whale studies at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, who explains that this event is quite exceptional

“Humpback whales don't normally do this. I think it was a surprise to all parties involved. "

The biologist added that the fisherman would have had little chance of being swallowed by the cetacean because if the humpback whale's mouth is massive, their throat is not wide enough for a human to pass. According to Charles Mayo, also a marine biologist at the Center for Coastal Studies, the real danger to the diver was the air pressure in his own lungs when the whale spat him out to the surface.

"If you go up to atmospheric pressure and hold your breath, you could develop an embolism," says the researcher, who believes that Michael Packard was smart in this situation and was also very lucky.

Camille Westphal Perrier

Article originally published in June 2021.

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