At a little before 8 a.m. Friday, veteran lobster diver Michael Packard entered the water for his second dive of the day.
His vessel, the “Ja’n J,” was off Herring Cove Beach and surrounded by a fleet of boats catching striped bass. The water temperature was a balmy 60 degrees and the visibility about 20 feet.
In something truly biblical, Packard was swallowed whole by a humpback whale. Packard recalled Friday afternoon following his release from Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis:
All of a sudden, I felt this huge shove and the next thing I knew it was completely black. I could sense I was moving, and I could feel the whale squeezing with the muscles in his mouth.
Initially, Packard thought he was inside a great white shark, but he couldn’t feel any teeth and he hadn’t suffered any obvious wounds. It quickly dawned on him that he had been swallowed by a whale.
I was completely inside; it was completely black. I thought to myself, ‘there’s no way I’m getting out of here. I’m done, I’m dead.’ All I could think of was my boys — they’re 12 and 15 years old.
Outfitted with scuba gear, he struggled and the whale began shaking its head so that Packard could tell he didn’t like it. He estimated he was in the whale for 30 to 40 seconds before the whale finally surfaced.
I saw light, and he started throwing his head side to side, and the next thing I knew I was outside (in the water),
Packard’s sister, Cynthia Packard, spoke with crewman Josiah Mayo, who relayed some of the details to her. Packard said Mayo saw the whale burst to the surface, and that he initially thought it was a great white shark.
“There was all this action at the top of the water,” Packard said Mayo told her. Then the whale flung her brother back into the sea. Mayo picked him up, called by radio to shore and sped back to the Provincetown pier. A Provincetown Fire Department ambulance took him to Cape Cod Hospital.
“Thank God, it wasn’t a white shark. He sees them all the time out there,” said Cynthia Packard. “He must have thought he was done.”
Packard was released from Cape Cod Hospital Friday afternoon with what he described as “a lot of soft tissue damage” but no broken bones. He said he’d return to diving as soon as he was healed according to Cape Times.