A lobster diver was going about his everyday routine when, all of a sudden, he felt a sudden jolt against his body. Before he knew it, he was inside the mouth of a massive animal. Here's his miraculous story.
The skies were clear, and the sea was still when Michael Packard was going about his usual routine out in the water. But little did he know that the quiet waters would soon turn into something out of a nightmare.
Packard was an experienced lobster diver who had spent many years working and hunting on the coastal waters of Provincetown, Massachusetts. Yet, despite his expert skills, nothing could have prepared him for what he encountered in the deep dark sea that day.
Where It All Began
The fateful event occurred in June 2021 - but things started off that day as normal as can be. Packard got his gear ready, and he began making his way down towards the deeper water. In no time at all, he was out in the open sea where he could dive towards the seabed.
The diver was already used to being surrounded by many fish and sea creatures, and things weren't different that Summer day. Packard swam past little fish and big ones. But what he was about to come face to face with was one type of sea creature he had never seen before.
All of a sudden, during his deep dive, Packard noticed that he had swam a little bit too close to a strange object. The unknown thing slammed onto his body extremely hard, catching him off guard. It all occurred so fast that Packard didn't have any time to get a glimpse of what had struck him.
Thankfully the big hit didn't cause the diver to lose consciousness. In fact, he was actually more alert than ever as his body was flung into deeper waters. He was surrounded by darkness and had no idea what was going on. As he looked around, he realized he had been swallowed by the unknown creature.
Packard had a million emotions and thoughts running through his mind. From fear to confusion, he questioned what kind of sea animal was large enough to be able to fit an adult man in his mouth? He wondered if he was inside the mouth of a great white shark, but he quickly realized that couldn't be possible.
If it had been the gigantic shark, then surely, Packard would have already been chewed up and hurt by the animal's sharp teeth. The large creature that had swallowed him had to be something else. By this point, Packard was terrified, not knowing if he would even be able to get out.
Below the Depths
For hundreds of years, the ocean has been linked with scary creatures that live in the deep mysterious parts of the ocean. There have even been countless stories of fishermen, divers, and just regular folks claiming they had encountered with mysterious creatures.
Although there has never been any scientific evidence or any legitimate reporting of such sea monsters or mermaids existing, some people are true believers that they are real. Could the animal that Packard had been swallowed by be one of these beasts?
Mythical Sea Creatures
Out of all the many conspiracies about sea monsters, one rumor that had really stuck was the one about the Kraken. It's suspected that this creature is an enormous squid-type of animal that resides in the deepest parts of the sea. Believers presume this beast is found in areas surrounding Iceland and Norway.
One infamous fish has been said to be living in the Scottish lake, not the ocean. The Loch Ness Monster is believed to be related to an extinct plesiosaur, so it looks lean and long with fins that resemble paddles. The Nessie - the nickname the animal has been given - is arguably the most notorious fictitious sea beast.
Mermaids & Manatees
Water animals aren't the only type of creatures that have been rumored to be lurking in the areas of the ocean we can't see. Mermaids and mermen, half-human half-fish creatures, have long been believed to exist by many people. The stories began when men at sea were said to be drawn in by mermaids' beauty.
Christopher Columbus even once claimed he saw three mermaids along the shores of the Dominican Republic during his 1492 voyage to the Americas. But the explorer revealed that they were "not half as beautiful as they are painted." Today experts say he probably had just spotted manatees.
Similar to mermaids, sirens, a mythical creature that closely resembled the half-human, half-fish beast was often rumored to exist by the ancient Greeks. Except these were said to be a hybrid of a deity and a monster, so they were often blamed for destroying ships and the people on them.
Sirens would allegedly use their voices to lure in sailors and crew members. Their singing hypnotized them into driving the ships straight into a rock formation that eventually caused them to sink. Clearly, there are numerous mythical creatures - but could any of them be the ones who swallowed Packard?
A Lifetime of Experiences
Packard was no newbie in the field of diving. He started off with fishing way back in 1990, and he fell in love with anything and everything related to water life. He spent eight years working in the business before he decided to open up his own place.
Over the years, Packard went back and forth between different sources of water - from oceans in Costa Rica to the coast by Cape Cod (which was where the unbelievable incident took place.) So, of course, with all this experience, he had faced many obstacles and life-threatening situations.
Lost in the Jungle
When Packard was 38, he was in such an intense accident that it even ended up being broadcasted onto the news. It was roughly around 2 decades previous to the day when he was swallowed by a sea creature in 2001. He and 8 other people were involved in a tragic air crash.
The plane was meant to head to Puerto Jimenez, but sadly, things didn't go as planned. And all of a sudden, the aircraft was going down. During the crash, the pilot, co-pilot, and one passenger lost their lives - leaving Packard and the rest trapped in a Costa Rican jungle. This was his first time with a near-death experience.
The Fight of Their Lives
Luckily the 5 men fighting for their lives were able to get a signal on the radio from the plane. They quickly sent an alert about what had just happened to anyone who could hear them. They were hopeful they would be rescued - but things took longer than expected.
According to the Associated Press reports from the time of the crash, the rescue team that was sent to get the survivors had taken a long time before finally finding the men. This was probably because they had no way to locate them exactly as they were in the middle of a jungle with little to no indicators to guide the team.
Rescued, At Last
Nevertheless, after a treacherous journey, the rescue team eventually was able to find Packard and the rest of the survivors. Despite losing 3 fellow passengers, the men were extremely relieved as their life-threatening situation was finally coming to an end. They were finally headed home.
And as it turned out, it was right on time. Because after a doctor had checked up and assessed the injured the men had suffered, he concluded that if they had spent even one more night out in that Costa Rican jungle, then the chances they would have made it were very unlikely.
Calm Before the Storm
Unfortunately, this once-in-a-lifetime experience wasn't the only unbelievable event that Packard had faced in his lifetime. Because, as previously mentioned, the skilled diver was swallowed by a mysterious sea creature 20 years after being trapped in the jungle.
From the land to the sea, it seemed like Packard couldn't catch a break. All he wanted was to spend a nice day out in the water. But instead, he came face to face with death. Earlier that fateful day, he took the boat out and suspected nothing as many other fishermen were out on the water - but soon, things took a scary turn.
The Dark Abyss
At first, he was the hunter searching for lobsters, but by the end of the day, Packard was the one being hunted. And he did not see it coming, because one moment he was out in open clear water, surrounded by seabass and other fishlife. And the next minute he was engulfed in a dark abyss.
He recalled the event to the newspaper, The Cape Cod Times. “All of a sudden, I felt this huge shove, and the next thing I knew it, was completely black.” At first, he thought he was inside a shark, but he realized he was wrong. He told TV station NBC10 Boston, that at the moment, he thought, “Oh my God, I’m in the mouth of a whale.”
Huge Mouths, Tiny Throat
Packard knew a great deal about the ocean, so it didn't take too long before he understood he was literally inside the mouth of a whale... more specifically humpback whale. These sea animals are known to be among one of the largest ones, hence how they could fit an adult man in between their jaw.
Humpback whales can reach around 60 feet in length, and they can weigh upwards of 40 tons, so clearly, these animals are enormous. But despite their giant size and huge mouths, they have relatively small throats since they only eat small fish and other organic matter in the water. So what caused one of them to swallow Packard?
On the Hunt
Luckily for Packard, the sea animal that devoured him was one that doesn't have any teeth! This is because humpback whales have a very odd and unique way of getting their food down to their stomachs. And it may explain how the diver ended up getting engulfed.
The whale opens its huge mouth as they take a giant leap forward using its tremendous tails. This action allows so many fish (and also a ton of water) to enter the animal's mouth to be consumed. The best explanation for what happened to Packard is that he was swimming right in front of a hungry whale ready to eat.
Nowhere to Run
One question still remains: how did Packard not realize a gigantic humpback whale was looming behind him? Well, apparently, according to biologist Jeremy Goldbogen, the whale didn't have to be so close to the diver to have him be accidentally engulfed.
Goldbogen explained to the website Live Science in an e-mail, “The engulfment capacity of a humpback whale is upwards of 50 tonnes [55 tons] of water (which is typically filled with prey like fish or krill). So their expansive gulp could easily engulf a diver. I have never heard of this happening before with humans.”
Working Their Way Down
The incident caused many experts in the field of marine biology to take interest in the case, mainly because a human being swallowed by sea animals is pretty much unheard of. Biologist Hector Guzman also wanted to share his opinion on how this could have happened with the website Live Science.
He spoke about “bait balls,” a term used for clumps of fish that come together in a protective sphere. Guzman explained, “Bait balls can form in open water as well as near the bottom, and whales start by feeding bottom-up in many areas. They may not see an object [such as a diver].”
It All Happened So Fast
Although the biologist's expertise was good to know, it wasn't exactly beneficial. Especially when it was all going down, because after all, Packard was worried about getting out of the whale's mouth rather than covering himself with why or how he got there.
Every passing second in the confined space felt like years. But later on, Packard confessed to Live Science that he was probably in the mouth for around half a minute. Because apparently, Packard was not the only one out in that water who felt uncomfortable - the humpback also felt like something was wrong.
Back to The Surface
Packard had been alert and awake for the entirety of the 30 seconds inside the giant sea animal's mouth. He tried to scramble fast to think of a way to escape the situation that could have ended with him losing his life. But thankfully, he didn't have to come up with a plan...
Because the humpback whale also wanted the human to exit his mouth as soon as possible. So the huge fish swam up towards the surface of the water, and he spat Packard out. He explained to the Cape Cod Times, “I saw light, and he started throwing his head side to side, and the next thing I knew I was outside [in the water].”
Witnessing the Exchange
When Packard sailed out that day, he wasn't alone. His good friend, Josiah Mayo, tagged along. And he stood in disbelief when he saw that Packard had been grabbed by a humpback whale. For 30 seconds, he was staring into the water, not knowing how to help his pal get out safely.
Mayo was scared he might never see Packard again. But after what felt like a lifetime, he finally saw the one thing he had been hoping for half a minute: bubbles started to form in the ocean. And all of a sudden, the whale jumped out and released the lobster diver back into the water. Quickly he rushed to get him aboard.
A Call For Help
Packard had just gone through a traumatic ordeal, so luckily, his friend Mayo was there to rescue him from the deep open waters. As soon as he was pulled back onto the boat, Mayo rushed to the wheel and headed back to the shore as fast as he could.
During the tense drive, Packard's friend made a radio call for help, so, fortunately, right as they got to the land, there was an ambulance ready to help out the injured lobster diver and drive him to the hospital. Thankfully though, Packard wasn't as badly wounded as one would expect. He was bruised up but had no broken bones.
An Innocent Mistake
News of the whale "attack" began to circulate. And in no time at all, experts on the large animal started sharing information they had about how this could have happened. Jooke Robbins, who specifically studies humpback whales, revealed to the Cape Cod Times, that this is very rare.
Apparently, humpback whales are never aggressive towards human beings, and this whole thing was probably an error on behalf of the animal. After analyzing what happened to Packard, Robbins explained, “Based on what was described, this would have to be a mistake and an accident on the part of the humpback.”
A Lucky Break
It's not just that humpback whales aren't hostile to humans, they biologically could not be even if they wanted to. These enormous water creatures have tiny throats that only allow certain small fishes to pass through. So, it's nearly impossible for a person to pass through as well.
That's exactly what makes such an incident so rare. Biologists confessed that they had never heard anything like Packard's story in their lifetime - and probably never will again. Packard got lucky that whales' food pipes are very thin and slender, or else who knows where he would have ended up...
Once In a Lifetime
Dr. Robbins was truly in disbelief that he had heard of such an occurrence in his lifetime. He truly believes that a whale has never before accidentally swallowed an entire human being! Mainly because it is not so often that people are just swimming out in deep open ocean water.
The biologist explained it in academic terms, “It is not something I have heard happening before. So many things would have had to happen to end up in the path of a feeding whale.” Meaning that Packard went through yet another once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Friends, Not Foes
Robbins wasn't the only humpback whale expert who agreed it was an incredibly rare thing to happen. Charles "Stormy" Mayo backed up everything that Robbins had said. Funny enough, this expert happened to be the father of Josiah Mayo, a.k.a. the friend Packard was out at sea with.
But his relationship with his son and Packard don't influence his expertise thinking. Stormy Mayo explained, "People direct-dive on [humpbacks] in the tropics, not here. In those places, I'm not aware of a single incident of people having problems with them." These giant animals may look scary, but they're not harmful.
Stormy said he was impressed by his son's crew member, and how he handled the scary situation. The whale expert told Cape Cod Times that he believed Packard was a "perfect pro." He said, "Packard is a smart guy and an exceptional diver. For that to happen to him, you can be sure he did everything he was supposed to do."
Despite his knowledge and bravery, Packard's wife is so fearful that she begs him to find another job other than lobster diving. Nonetheless, he just can't let it go since it's what he is best at. And although it's put him in terrifying positions, his career has also given him amazing opportunities.
Packard's encounter with the whale was so fascinating that he was even offered to be featured on an episode of the famous talk show, Jimmy Kimmel Live! Of course, the diver agreed, and soon enough, he was in the hot seat, discussing the event in a hilarious way, because, after all, it is Jimmy Kimmel.
Packard was seated inside of a fake whale's mouth, which had the viewers cracking up. Kimmel teased the diver, "I heard you freaked out a little when you saw it." To which Packard replied, "I did. I thought about it, and I was like, 'No way am I getting in that. I'm going back to Cape Cod.'"
"The Perfect Celebration of Life"
Packard confessed that he was at first uncomfortable sitting in a whale's mouth for the show, but he realized he was stronger than that. "But then I thought about it harder, and I said, 'You know what? It's the perfect celebration of life. I survived.'" And when Kimmel said Packard was "swallowed," he quickly corrected him.
He teased, “I wasn’t swallowed, Jimmy. I was in his mouth. Get that straight.” Kimmel light-heartedly answered, “I got a show to do, and I’m going with swallowed. I guess there is a difference. Because if you were swallowed, you would have come out the other end.”
For the most part, the late-night episode was kept joyous and not too serious. But when Packard further revealed his story, things got a bit darker. So to lighten the mood, Packard finished with a joke, “I want to apologize to the whale for getting in his way,” he quipped. “And I won’t ever do it again.”
Let's hope he's right because we think this diver has had enough inspiring stories for one lifetime - from almost losing his life on a plane to surviving in a jungle… to being engulfed by a giant humpback whale! Here's to hoping that Packard stays out of harm's way moving forward...