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The Guy Who Was (Almost) Swallowed by a Whale Did a Reddit AMA. Here Are 13 Takeaways

A modern-day Jonah.
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He’s been called the modern-day Jonah (or Geppetto, depending on the stories you heard growing up). Michael Packard is a lobster diver who was doing his job off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts when the unimaginable happened: he got swallowed by a humpback whale.

Apart from the aforementioned Biblical figure and the character from the Disney film Pinocchio, there's hardly any record of anybody ever being swallowed up by a whale, much less anyone who lived to tell anyone about it.

Through his son Jacob, Packard (u/bloxiefox) hosted a Reddit AMA (Ask me Anything) over the weekend. And it went about as well as you might have hoped, with the 56-year-old answering nearly every question anyone might have had about a person spending time inside the mouth of a whale.

Michael Packard in the photo his son posted on Reddit

Photo by Reddit / u/bloxiefox.

Here are the 13 main takeaways from Packard’s AMA:

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1| On what exactly happened:

Q - “Did you see the whale coming and just couldn’t get out of the way or did it sneak up on you?”

A - “Not at all. Came up behind from me, felt it close down, then boom.” 

2| On what it felt like being inside of a whale:

Q - “What is the feeling of being ingested most comparable to? Is it like being crushed by a couch or being pummeled on all sides? Were you thinking “oh great I’m the guy who gets eaten today” or is it too tough to process what’s happening until it’s over?”

A - “It was full of water, and I could feel the muscles of its mouth convulsing around me, it was a really strange feeling to be sure. Can’t draw a meaningful comparison.”

3| On what was going through his head

Q - “What was your ‘last thought’ when you realized you’ve been eaten by a whale?”

A - “My wife and kids.”

4| On how long he was trapped

Q - “How long were you trapped? Were you concerned at any point that you might die?

A – “Trapped for about 30-40 seconds. Yes, I was almost convinced I was going to die that day.”

5| On how he was able to escape:

Q - “1. How did you get out? 2. Were you able to see anything? 3. What bad things could have happened inside which didn’t happen fortunately?”

A - “1. Eventually the whale managed to dislodge me by moving its head and tongue, I think.

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2. Nope, completely dark.

3. I could’ve suffocated or drowned if I didn’t retrieve my regulator in time." 

6| On where he was released

Q - "Did the whale swim away with you for a bit, or spit you out near your dive site?”

A - "I could feel it swimming around, but it spit me out not too far from where my boat was with my mate." 

7| On what happened after:

Q - "After the whale dislodged you, did you get to see it swim away? Or was it too hectic?”

A - "All I saw was whitewater crashing around me, and the tail of it, disappearing into the water."

8| On what the doctors and nurses said

Q - "What is the reaction when you get to the hospital to get checked out and the doctors ask you what happened?”

A - "I said, 'I got stuck in a whale’s mouth.' All the nurses and doctors at the hospital came to see me and ask me about it. One nurse came in with a notepad, she asked me for lottery numbers!"

9| On the physical injuries

Q - "What were the injuries sustained?”

A - "Soft tissue damage, nothing serious." Thankfully.

10| On who he wants to play him in the (inevitable) movie:

Q - "What actor do you want play you in the future Netflix movie?”

A - "Matt Damon." (His wife says Sean Penn.)

11| On another crazy thing he was involved in

Q - "I was reading in the other thread about a plane crash you were involved in. Would you be willing to delve into that experience and how it impacted you, your life, and worldview? Thanks for doing this!” (Packard was involved in a plane crash in Costa Rica about 10 years ago. He and four other passengers were rescued after spending two nights in the jungle).

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A - (I don't usually like to ask my dad about the plane crash very often. What he's told me when I ask him is that he was just astounded to be alive, if he was rescued even a day later he wouldn't be here today. He has a large scar on his back. This all happened before I was born, but I'm sure it shaped him into the brave and passionate man he is today.) - Jacob 

12| And another crazy thing

Q - "Aside from the whale and the plane crash, have you had any other near-death experiences?”

A - "When I was 15 or so, my fishing boat became stranded off at sea. I swam after it. Visibility was terrible, had no idea where I was. No way back to shore. Barely made it out of there with my life, lucky I was found."

13| On what he plans to do now

Q - "Do you plan on continuing your job or just diving in general? This must of been a traumatic event for you.”

A - "I’m getting back in the water as soon as possible. This job is my life, wouldn’t stop for anything."

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Paul John Caña
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