Modern Jonah is safe after nearly being swallowed by whale


David Ian Klein, THE FORWARD

This story originally appeared on 

Last week, a man found himself inside the mouth of a whale.

No, it wasn’t an ancient Hebrew prophet fleeing a God-given quest to the Assyrian city of Nineveh.

This time it was a Cape Cod fisherman, Michael Packard, 56, diving for lobster off the coast of Provincetown, Massachusetts.

To secure their catch, lobster divers have to descend deep down to the ocean’s sandy floor to locate the bottom-feeders. Packard, a licensed diver, is no stranger to such trips.

“I got down to about 45 feet of water, and all of a sudden I just felt this huge bump, and everything went dark,” Packard told Boston’s CBS channel, WBZ. “And I could sense that I was moving, and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, did I just get bit by a shark?’”

Soon, however, he noticed the lack of teeth, and surmised it was a different monster of the deep, a humpback whale which can range between 43 and 59 ft depending on age and gender.

Packard hasn’t yet commented as to whether he feels any parallels to the biblical story of Jonah, Instead he says his thoughts were closer to home.

“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,” he told the Cape Cod Times.

Packard estimated he spent about 30 seconds inside before the creature spit him back out.

Being swallowed by a humpback whale is an exceedingly rare occurrence according to experts. Enough so that it’s considered practically nonexistent.

“People direct dive on them (humpbacks) in the Tropics, not here. In those places I’m not aware of a single incident of people having problems with them,” Charles “Stormy” Mayo, a senior scientist and whale expert at the Center for Coastal Studies, told the Cape Cod Times.