Humpback whale swallows and spits out US diver

Posted by David Henning on 14 June 2021

“I was completely inside; it was completely black,” said Micheal Packard who had a biblical encounter with a humpback whale in Cape Cod, USA.

Packard, 56, a commercial lobster diver, was diving off his vessel on Friday morning, June 11 when he was approached by the whale according to the Cape Cod Times. At first thought, he suspected it to be a great white shark, which frequents the waters but said that he couldn’t feel any teeth.

Following his release from Cape Cod hospital, Packard estimated he was about 14m deep inside the animal’s mouth for 30-40 seconds before it spat him out. “All of a sudden, I felt this huge shove and the next thing I knew it was completely black… I could sense I was moving, and I could sense the whale squeezing with the muscles in his mouth.”

He was released from the hospital the same day as the incident, with some bruising and a lot of soft-tissue damage but no broken bones. He said he will be returning to the sea once he had healed.

Humpback whales spend much of their time in the feeding grounds off the North East coast of the US, searching for and engulfing small schooling fish, Jooke Robbins, director of the Humpback Whale Studies Programme at the Center for Coastal Studies told the New York Times. When the whale realised it had caught something that was not its typical prey, in this case, it responded the way a human who accidentally ingested a fly would.

Robbins commented that the esophagus of nontoothed whales is too small to swallow a human, but that they could wrap their mouth around a large object and then spit it out. When they open their mouth to feed, it billows like a parachute and blocking its vision. Humpbacks filter out small schooling fish and do not usually cause injuries with their mouths.

Charles Mayo, a senior scientist and whale expert at the Center for Coastal Studies, agreed it was likely an extremely rare, accidental encounter while the whale was feeding on fish.

Picture: Pexels

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