The Cape Cod Times calls Michael Packard's tale a "truly biblical" story, but for the 56-year-old Massachusetts man, he just considers it an incredibly lucky one. Packard, a lobster diver who's been working out of Provinceton for four decades, tells CBS Boston he was about 45 feet down in the waters off of Herring Cove Beach on Friday morning, when "all of a sudden, I just felt this huge bump." He said things then went completely black, and his first thought was that he'd been attacked by a shark. "Then I felt around and I realized there was no teeth," he tells WBZ. "Then I realized, 'Oh my God, I'm in a whale's mouth ... and he's trying to swallow me.'" He tells the Times he could actually feel the whale's mouth muscles squeezing him, and at that point he started to give up hope. "I thought to myself, 'There’s no way I'm getting out of here. I'm done, I'm dead,'" he says, adding that he immediately thought of his 12- and 15-year-old sons and his wife.
The whale apparently didn't like how the gear-fitted Packard felt, however, and it soon surfaced and started shaking its head in displeasure. "He started throwing his head side to side, and the next thing I knew I was outside [in the water]," he says. Packard thinks he was in the whale's mouth for a total of about 30 seconds. He was picked up by a nearby fishing charter boat, rushed back to shore, and taken to Cape Cod Hospital, where he thought he'd be told his legs were broken. That wasn't the case—he was left with bruises and "a lot of soft tissue damage," but he'll otherwise be fine and back to diving when he's healed. Peter Corkeron, a senior scientist at the New England Aquarium, tells WBZ that what happened to Packard was a "very unusual accident," explaining that humpback whales eat by "gulp feeding," opening their mouths extremely wide to take in their sustenance. "I couldn't believe I got out of that," Packard tells CBS. "I made it." (Read more whales stories.)