Michael Packard was diving for lobster in 45 feet of water off Provincetown, Massachussetts, when he said he “felt this huge bump and everything went dark.”
He thought he’d been attacked by a great white shark, but when he felt no pain and realized there were no teeth, he suspected he was inside the mouth of a whale. A humpback whale had scooped him up and Packard figured he was going to die. “Oh my God, I'm in a whale's mouth and he's trying to swallow me, “he recalled in an interview outside Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis. “This is it,” he said. “I'm going to die."
But instead of getting swallowed and meeting his maker, the whale went to the surface, shook its head and spit him out. Packard estimates he was inside the whale’s mouth for 30-40 seconds. Meanwhile, his crewman, Josiah Mayo, had been searching for air bubbles from Packard’s scuba gear.
Mayo said he saw the whale burst to the surface and toss Packard back into the sea. Joe Francis, a charter boat captain who happened to be nearby said he saw Packard “come flying out of the water, feet first with his flippers on, and land back in the water," Francis jumped aboard Packard’s boat and helped get the diver on board and out of his scuba gear. "I just got thrown in the air and landed in the water,” Packard told journalists. “I was free, and I just floated there. I couldn't believe… I'm here to tell it."
Initially he thought he had broken his legs, but he mostly had soft tissue bruising, and possibly a dislocated knee. He walked out of the hospital with a slight limp.
Although his wife wants him to quit his 40-year diving career, the 56-year-old lobsterman says he will return to the water as soon as he’s healed.
Meanwhile, despite the eyewitness accounts from Moya and Francis, some experts and fishermen express doubts about Packard’s account.