Michael Packard, 56, a licensed commercial lobster diver, entered the ocean shortly after 8 a.m. Friday for his second dive of the day. His yacht was off the coast of Herring Cove Beach, surrounded by a flotilla of boats after striped bass.
Packard plunged to the bottom and noticed schools of sand lances and stripers swimming by. The ocean food chain was clearly visible, but approximately ten feet below the surface, Packard saw firsthand what it was like to be a part of it.
Packard was devoured whole by a humpback whale in a genuine biblical moment.
“All of a sudden, I felt this huge shove and the next thing I knew it was completely black,” Packard recalled Friday afternoon following his release from Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis. “I could sense I was moving, and I could feel the whale squeezing with the muscles in his mouth.”
Packard initially believed he was inside a big white shark, but he did not feel any teeth and had no visible wounds. He soon realized he’d been devoured by a whale.
“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.”
He struggled with his scuba gear, and the whale began shaking its head, signaling to Packard that the whale is uncomfortable. He estimated that he was inside the whale for between 30 and 40 seconds until it surfaced.
“I saw light, and he started throwing his head side to side, and the next thing I knew I was outside (in the water),” said Packard.
Cynthia Packard, Packard’s sister, spoke with crewmember Josiah Mayo, who told her some details. Packard stated that Mayo initially believed the whale was a great white shark when it burst to the surface.
“There was a lot of activity on the surface of the water,” Packard reported Mayo telling her. The whale then spit her brother out to the sea. Mayo snatched him up, radioed shore, and immediately returned to the Provincetown pier. He was escorted to Cape Cod Hospital by the Provincetown Fire Department.