At a little before 8 a.m. Friday, veteran lobster diver Michael Packard entered the water for his second dive of the day.
His vessel, the “Ja’n J,” was off Herring Cove Beach and surrounded by a fleet of boats catching striped bass. The water temperature was a balmy 60 degrees and the visibility about 20 feet.
Licensed commercial lobster divers literally pluck lobsters off the sandy bottom, and as Packard, 56, dove down Friday morning, he saw schools of sand lances and stripers swimming by. The ocean food chain was in full evidence, but about 10 feet from the bottom Packard suddenly knew what it truly felt like to be part of that chain.
In something truly biblical, Packard was swallowed whole by a humpback whale.
“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.”
Initially, Packard thought he was inside a great white shark, but he couldn’t feel any teeth and he hadn’t suffered any obvious wounds. It quickly dawned on him that he had been swallowed 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.”
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SOURCE: Cape Cod Times, Doug Fraser