US lobsterman Michael Packard was diving off Cape Cod when a humpback whale gobbled him up and then spat him out.
The 30 second ordeal, which only caused Packard to suffer a dislocated knee, saw the 56 year-old hit by what he calls a “huge bump” and then total darkness.
He initially thought he had been attacked by a great white shark, but “felt around and I realised there was no teeth.”
“And then I realised: ‘Oh my God, I’m in a whale’s mouth and he’s trying to swallow me. This is it, I’m going die’,” he told WBZ-TV News.
“Then all of a sudden he went up to the surface and just erupted and started shaking his head.
“I just got thrown in the air and landed in the water. I was free and I just floated there. I couldn’t believe… I’m here to tell it.”
The incident is being compared to the Old Testament story of Jonah’s three days in the belly of a whale, with Packard telling reporters he immediately thought of his wife and two boys aged 12 and 15 as he lay in the mammal.
After being spat out by the whale, Packward was hauled back into the boat by his worried crewmate.
Humpbacks can grow to 50ft and weigh up to 36 tonnes, with a population of approxiamately 60,000 globally.
The lobsterman says he has no plans to quit diving after the near-death experience however, as experts say the incident was probably an accident on the whale’s part due to their disinterest in human prey.
WHALE OF A TALE: A Massachusetts man describes being "thrown in the air" after he says he was nearly swallowed by a humpback whale. 😱 pic.twitter.com/azmkbB1TDX
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) June 12, 2021
a humpback whale would struggle to swallow a basketball, let alone a full grown human lobsterman, but could definitely hold a person in their mouth long enough to be like “oops- not food” and then return them to their boat
— whalefact (@awhalefact) June 12, 2021
Some commentators have suggested that the lobsterman’s claims do not add up however, as one doctor at his hospital poured cold water on the story.
“At least one doctor at the Cape Cod hospital that treated the lobsterman who claims he was nearly swallowed by a humpback expressed skepticism Saturday,” The New York Post reported.
“‘He reportedly ascended from a 45-foot depth in 20 to 40 seconds and didn’t have any evidence of barotrauma?’ scoffed the Cape Cod Hospital emergency room doc.
“A person traumatized by such an encounter should expect more serious injuries, such as hearing loss, because of the sudden change in water pressure from that depth, noted the physician.”