Despite the infrequent occurrence of a human getting gulped up by a whale, experts say that it's near impossible for the massive mammal to actually swallow a person. Their mouths might be huge, but they can't eat us. Here's why.
Though there is ample room for a full-grown adult to fit inside the mouth of a whale, their throats are only about the size of a balled-up fist! According to Nicola Hodgins of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation organization, while the animal's mouth can gulp up anything smaller than 10 feet in diameter, its throats can only expand to about 15 inches. And even this stretch is a bit much for the mammal to accommodate a larger meal.
This means that the historical tales of a human making their way into the belly of the beasts is apparently a myth! Whale species such as sperm and toothed feast mostly on fish and squid, while humpback, blue, grey, and minke eat plankton, small fish, and krill. So humans are simply not part of their food palette.
It is possible, however, for a human to end up inside the mammal's mouth. In fact, one such example occurred last week when Cape Cod lobster diver Michael Packard found himself "engulfed" in a whale's mouth for about 30 seconds before the creature spat him out above the water's surface.
So, how did this rare incident happen? "[Packard] was in the wrong place at the wrong time," said Hodgins. Thankfully, the diver made it out safely with next to no serious injuries and lived to tell the unique tale! But, many are still stuck in wonder - Is it possible for any whale species to eat a human? According to National Geographic, the chances of it happening are basically a billion to one.
Of the 90 known species of this animal on Earth, sperm whales are the only kind with throats large enough to have the option of eating up a person. So, unless you happen to find yourself around a sperm whale, there's no need to fret the next time you're jumping into the ocean for a swim. In fact, we humans are actually more dangerous to this mammal than they are to us. For now, for the sake of us all, let's let our minds rest easy that we're in the clear.