A commercial lobster diver was seriously injured when he was caught in the mouth of a humpback whale off the coast of Cape Cod.
A Cape Cod commercial lobster diver was bruised up Friday after he says he was briefly caught in the mouth of a humpback whale off the coast of Provincetown.
© Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff A humpback whale is seen performing a spin breach in Massachusetts Bay on July 11, 2017.
“I was lobster diving and a humpback whale tried to eat me,” Michael Packard wrote in a post on the Provincetown Community Space Facebook page that afternoon. “I was in his closed mouth for about 30 to 40 seconds before he rose to the surface and spit me out.”
The confrontation between the massive mammal and the 56-year-old Wellfleet resident played out off Race Point, his sister, Cynthia Packard, told The Cape Cod Times.
Cynthia Packard said she spoke with her brother’s crewman, Josiah Mayo, about the incident.
Mayo told her when the whale first burst through the water’s surface, he thought the animal may have been a great white shark.
“He sees them all the time out there,” Cynthia Packard said, referring to her brother. “He must have thought he was done.”
According to the Times, a call went out over the police and fire departments scanner just before 8 a.m. Friday, reporting a diver had suffered serious leg injuries after encountering a whale.
Michael Packard was in stable condition at Cape Cod Hospital later in the day, the newspaper reported.
“I am very bruised up but have no broken bones,” he wrote on Facebook. “I want to thank the Provincetown rescue squad for (their) caring and help.”
He could not immediately be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
Speaking to WBZ Friday afternoon, Michael Packard recalled the moment he was inside the whale’s mouth.
“I thought to myself: ‘OK this is it. I’m finally — I’m going to die,’” the visibly shaken diver said.
Charles “Stormy” Mayo, a senior scientist and whale expert at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, told the Times the incident is extremely rare, since humpback whales are not typically aggressive.
“People direct dive on them (humpbacks) in the tropics, not here. In those places I’m not aware of a single incident of people having problems with them,” Charles Mayo, the father of Josiah Mayo, told the newspaper.
The interaction was probably accidental and likely happened as the whale was feeding on fish, he said.
“Michael (Packard) is a smart guy and an exceptional diver,” said the senior Mayo. “For that to happen to him, you can be sure he did everything he was supposed to do.”
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