Lobster Diver Nearly Swallowed by Humpback Whale Gets Spat Out Alive

Humpback Whale

Photo: Stock Photos from Craig Lambert Photography/Shutterstock

Commercial lobster diver Michael Packard was nearly swallowed by a humpback whale while searching for lobsters off the coast of Massachusetts. While that sounds like something out of a storybook, it’s not—and the lucky diver is alive to tell the astounding tale.

Packard knew something was wrong the moment the incident occurred, but he wasn’t sure what was happening to him, exactly. “I got down to about 45 feet of water, and all of a sudden I just felt this huge bump, and everything went dark,” Packard explained. “And I could sense that I was moving, and I was like, ‘”Oh, my God, did I just get bit by a shark?' Then I felt around, and I realized there was no teeth and I had felt, really, no great pain,” Packard recalls. “And then I realized, ‘Oh, my God, I'm in a whale's mouth. I'm in a whale's mouth, and he's trying to swallow me.'”

Certain he was about to die, Packard estimates that he was in the whale’s mouth for 30 or 40 seconds, in a completely dark space full of water. Packard could’ve easily drowned or suffocated, but he had his breathing apparatus with him. Thankfully, the whale surfaced after less than a minute and spit him out. (Whale experts have also said that given the creature’s small esophagus, Packard wouldn’t have been able to fit in its throat.)

Once ejected from the mouth, Packard was launched into the air and landed in the water. He was bruised but didn’t have any broken bones. After being treated at the hospital, he was recovering at home the same day it happened.

So, does Packard plan on getting back into the water? Of course! In a Reddit AMA about the incident, his son wrote, “I have no doubt in my mind he will do everything he can to keep diving, it's his life and passion.”


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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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