Man Survives Being Swallowed by Whale While Diving Off Cape Cod, MA

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Michael Packard, swallower by whale,
Michael Packard, 56, in good spirits. Credit: Family

A man diving off Cape Cod was swallowed by a humpback whale on Friday, staying inside the beast for 40-seconds before being spat back out.

Lobsterman Michael Packard was diving off Provincetown, Massachusetts, when he felt this huge bump before everything went dark.

Initially suspecting he had been attacked by one of the many great white sharks in the area, he realized he was in a whale’s mouth when he couldn’t feel the teeth.

“I felt around and I realized there was no teeth. And then I realized: ‘Oh my God, I’m in a whale’s mouth and he’s trying to swallow me. This is it, I’m going die’.”

– Michael Packard

Packard, 56, and his crewmate were off Herring Cove, where conditions were excellent, with water visibility at about 20ft.

The whale, clearly unhappy with what it had accidentally swallowed, spat Packard out at the surface, where his crewmate pulled him back onboard their boat. Packard suffered nothing more than a dislocated knee.

Packard has no intentions of giving up his forty-year career diving off Cape Cod, despite his wife’s pleas.

cape cod, ma
Cape Cod, MA

The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is a species of baleen whale. It is one of the larger rorqual species, with adults ranging in length from 12–16 m (39–52 ft) and weighing around 25–30 t (28–33 short tons). The humpback has a distinctive body shape, with long pectoral fins and a knobbly head. It is known for breaching and other distinctive surface behaviors, making it popular with whale watchers. Males produce a complex song lasting 10 to 20 minutes, which they repeat for hours at a time. All the males in a group will produce the same song, which is different each season. Its purpose is not clear, though it may help induce estrus in females.

Found in oceans and seas around the world, humpback whales typically migrate up to 25,000 km (16,000 mi) each year. They feed in polar waters and migrate to tropical or subtropical waters to breed and give birth, fasting and living off their fat reserves. Their diet consists mostly of krill and small fish. Humpbacks have a diverse repertoire of feeding methods, including the bubble net technique.

Like other large whales, the humpback was a target for the whaling industry. The species was once hunted to the brink of extinction; its population fell by an estimated 90% before a 1966 moratorium. While numbers have partially recovered to some 80,000 animals worldwide, entanglement in fishing gear, collisions with ships, and noise pollution continue to affect the species.

humpback, whale,
Humpback whale. Photo by Mike Doherty on Unsplash

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