A lobster diver found himself trapped in the mouth of a humpback whale in an account that has echoes of the biblical story of Jonah.
Michael Packard, 56, is being dubbed a ‘real-life Jonah’ because of the similarity between his ordeal and that of the Old Testament prophet who found himself in the belly of a large fish for three days and three nights before being spat out.
The father-of-two told The Cape Cod Times he was diving for lobsters near the ocean floor off the coast of Provincetown, Massachusetts, on Friday morning when he felt a “huge shove” before everything suddenly went “completely black”.
Packard suffered only minor injuries and was released from hospital shortly after.
“I could sense I was moving, and I could feel the whale squeezing with the muscles in his mouth,” he said.
When he realized he was inside the mouth of a whale, he was sure he was going to die.
“I was completely inside; it was completely black,” Packard said.
“I thought to myself, ‘there’s no way I’m getting out of here. I’m done. I’m dead.’ All I could think of was my boys — they’re 12 and 15-years-old.”
But in an extraordinary turn of events, he “saw light” and could feel the whale “throwing his head side to side”.
“The next thing I knew, I was outside,” he says.
Packard thinks he was in the whale’s mouth for no more than 40 seconds before being ejected.
His experience has surprised marine experts because humpbacks are generally docile creatures.
Humpback specialist Jooke Robbins told the newspaper he had never heard of anything like this happening before, and that it was most likely an “accident” on the part of the whale.
“Based on what was described, this would have to be a mistake,” he said.
Marine biologist Iain Kerr told Global News he had heard of this happening only twice before, and that humpbacks by and large were not that interested in humans.
“The whale does not want a human dessert. It just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.