Science | June 11, 2021 6:44 pm

In Cape Cod, a Humpback Whale Almost Ate a Lobster Diver

The stuff of maritime nightmares

Humpback whales
The maws of many whales.
vivek kumar/Unsplash

What’s the biggest occupational hazard involved with being a lobster diver? Hint: it’s not the possibility of being pinched by tiny, tiny claws. Michael Packard was diving for lobsters near the Cape Cod coast on Friday morning. It’s something he’d been doing for years — decades, even. Packard had been diving to retrieve lobsters for 40 years, and — one assumes — it was a relatively routine process for him.

And then a whale tried to eat him.

In an interview with WBZ-TV, Packard said he dove from his boat into the water. Then, Packard “felt this huge bump and everything went dark.” His first thought: this was a shark attack. Then he realized that wherever he was and whatever was attacking him, it didn’t have the anticipated sharp teeth. That was when he made a shocking realization: “Oh my God I’m in a whale’s mouth. . . and he’s trying to swallow me.”

The whale eventually surfaced and spat Packard out. He was hospitalized in the aftermath; according to CBS’s report, he was able to walk with a limp when he was released. A New England Aquarium scientist, Peter Corkeron, suspects that the humpback whale was engaged in “gulp feeding.”

“[Packard] was just unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Corkeron said. Thankfully for Packard, his story involved a not insubstantial bit of luck as well.