Saturday June 12th 2021
“I have bruises all over the place”
Humpback whale tried to devour fishermen
The story sounds like something out of the Bible, but it is said to have recently taken place off the US coast. According to his own account, a fisherman briefly got caught in the mouth of a humpback whale. One expert considers the “accident” to be entirely possible.
In the USA, a fisherman said he was temporarily swallowed by a whale. “I was diving for lobsters when a humpback whale tried to eat me,” said Michael Packard of Provincetown, Massachusetts. The marine mammal spat him out after 30 to 40 seconds and he was rescued without major injuries.
“I have bruises all over the place, but no broken bones,” Packard continued. After a short stay in hospital, he was released.
In an interview with local broadcaster CBSN Boston, the fisherman said that he was about 13 meters deep when he suddenly felt a violent jolt “and everything went black”. At first he thought he was attacked by a shark. But there were no teeth, he didn’t have any severe pain.
“That’s when I realized, oh my god, I’m in the mouth of a whale and he’s trying to swallow me,” Packard told the broadcaster. He thought he was going to die, but the whale swam to the surface and spat him out. “I was thrown in the air and landed in the water.”
Wide mouths, narrow throats
All in all a difficult story to believe – but Packard has a witness: Josiah Mayo went out fishing and was on board their ship. According to his own information, Mayo Packard helped out of the water and called the rescue workers.
And: Josiah Mayo is the son of a researcher and expert on whales at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown. “I know the people involved (…) so I have every reason to believe what they are saying is true,” Research Center’s humpback whale studies director Jooke Robbins told AFP.
Although she has never heard of such an “accident” before, she thinks it is entirely possible. Foraging whales “rush open-mouthed and swallow fish and water very quickly,” said Robbins. “Their mouths are quite wide” but “their throats are quite narrow” – impossible for them to swallow anything large like a man.
After a 15-month pandemic break, tourism is currently starting up again in the Provincetown area. Against this background, “it is important that people are aware of these powerful marine mammals,” warns the expert. “If you see a whale, keep your distance. It is really important to give the whales room.”