A commercial lobster diver cheated death after nearly being swallowed by a humpback whale off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on Friday morning.
Michael Packard survived a harrowing half-minute inside the whale's mouth before the mighty ocean mammal "spit me out," he wrote on a Provincetown community Facebook page.
"A humpback whale tried to eat me," Packard, 56, wrote. "I was in his closed mouth for about 30 to 40 seconds before he rose to the surface and spit me out. I am very bruised up but have no broken bones."
In his post, he also thanked first responders from Provincetown for pulling him out of the water.
The father of two boys, ages 12 and 16, returned home to his family Friday afternoon after being released from Cape Cod Hospital with a dislocated knee and soft tissue damage, Packard said.
He told NBC Boston he was lobster diving in about 45 feet of water when he "just felt this truck hit me and everything just went dark."
He initially thought he had been attacked by a shark, which is common in area waters, but then realized he could not feel any teeth and he wasn’t in any pain.
"And then I said, 'Oh my God, I'm in the mouth of a whale with its mouth shut,'" Packard told NBC Boston, adding that he struggled to find his breathing regulator while inside the whale's mouth.
"Am I just going to run out of air and suffocate? Is it going to swallow me? This is how you're going to go, Michael. This is how you're going to die, in the mouth of a whale," Packard thought to himself.
But the whale eventually surfaced, shook its head and spit him out.
"I just got thrown out of his mouth into the water. There was just white water everywhere," Packard, who was initially rescued by his crew mate in the surface boat, said.
Charles “Stormy” Mayo, a senior scientist and whale expert at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, told the Cape Cod Times that such human-whale encounters are rare.
Humpbacks are not aggressive, and Mayo thinks it was an accidental encounter while the whale was feeding on fish, likely sand lance.