It sounds like a story coming out of a movie, but a Massachusetts fisherman narrowly escaped death after being swallowed by a humpback whale. Thankfully, the giant threw him up alive back to the ocean.
Michael Packard, 56, explained that he was floating 45ft (14m) in the waters off the coast of Rovenstown when he suddenly felt a huge bump approaching him, and then everything turned gloomy.
30 seconds in the whale’s mouth
He claimed that he thought a shark had attacked him, but he didn’t feel any teeth nor was in pain.
He explained: “I realized I was in the mouth of a whale trying to swallow me. I told myself, OK, I’m going to die,” noting that he thought about his wife and children.
It is estimated that he was in the whale’s mouth for 30 seconds. However, he continued to breathe because he was still carrying a respirator, according to the British newspaper The Guardian.
Charles Mayo, a senior scientist and whale expert at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, said such encounters between humans and whales are rare.
He also added that the humpback is not aggressive, noting that it was an accidental encounter since the whale feeds on fish.
“The whale was surprised”
Joke Robbins, director of studies on humpback whales, explained that when these whales are hungry, they dive deep into the water with an open mouth, swallowing fish and water very quickly, and then expel the water through the baleen (whalebone), which works similarly to a filter.
“Its buccal cavity is very wide, but its throat is narrow, and it cannot swallow anything big, like a human being,” she added.
The expert pointed out that the whale, which witnesses described as a juvenile, did not quickly detect an intruder in its belly. It is possible the animal was surprised when it swallowed the man, opening its mouth to expel him.