The commercial lobster diver who made headlines as modern day Jonah when he escaped a whale’s mouth last Friday also experienced another classic survival scenario.
Michael Packard, 56, survived a plane crash 20 years ago that left three dead and stranded five passengers in a jungle in Costa Rica, according to an Associated Press article published at the time.
Packard has been fishing recreationally in Costa Rica since 1990 and started his own business, Mar Huron Sportfishing, in 1998. Packard divides his time between Cape Cod and Costa Rica, diving for lobster off the coast of Massachusetts in the summer and managing his sport fishing business. from Porta Jimenez in winter.
Packard, then 38, was on a Sansa airline flight to Puerto Jimenez from San José in November 2001 when his plane crashed, killing pilot Ricardo Salazar, co-pilot Carlos Lacayo and passenger. Adolfo Predo, all Costa Rican.
Packard was one of five survivors who spent two nights in a jungle on the Costa Rican coast. They used the plane’s radio to call for help and were able to emit a distress beacon from the plane, although it still took more than a day for rescuers to reach them as the location was remote and difficult to reach, according to the Associated Press.
Packard suffered “multiple injuries to his abdomen and upper body,” the article read. He and his surviving companions were treated at the crash site by Dr Luis Blanco, who said: “They would not have survived another night at this site”.
Packard recovered at Clinica Biblica, a Catholic hospital in San José.
Now, 20 years later, Packard is recovering from a new contact with death.
Michael Packard, 56, has survived two fatal collisions, first after a plane crash left three people dead in Costa Rica and now after escaping the mouth of a humpback whale. He suffered only minor injuries after being trapped in the mouth of a humpback whale for about 30 seconds on Friday morning.
Experts say being eaten by a humpback whale is extremely rare, with one suggesting the whale made a mistake when it sucked up Packard and quickly spat it out (file photo)
Packard had been a lobster diver for 40 years at the time of the incident and was rescued by a teammate who called authorities to the shore.
Packard described the experience in an interview with CBSN Boston
Packard divides his time between Cape Cod and Costa Rica, diving for lobster off the coast of Massachusetts in the summer and running his sport fishing business in Porta Jimenez in the winter
“I was pretty much at the bottom and I just felt that. . . a truck hit me and everything went dark, ”Packard said in an interview with NBC10 Boston after returning from the hospital on Friday. “I said, ‘Oh my god, I’m in a whale’s mouth.’ ‘
At first he said he thought he had been attacked by a shark, but when he realized he didn’t feel sharp teeth and was not in pain, he began to understand what was happening. ‘had passed. It was trapped in the whale’s mouth for nearly a minute, before the creature realized what it was trying to eat and purged it, Packard claims.
Packard was rescued by his teammate Josiah Mayo, who was aboard their boat ‘The J n’ J. ‘ Mayo watched in shock as the water beside the boat erupted as the whale surfaced – and Packard flew out of the mammal’s mouth.
He pulled Packard out of the water, according to the Cape Cod Times, and used his radio to call authorities on the shore.
The Provincetown Fire Department later confirmed that a call had been received about a diver who suffered serious leg injuries “after interacting with a whale.”
The humpback whale was probably hoping for a mouthful of sand eels, which live in the waters off Cape Cod, and accidentally swallowed Packard instead.
At first, Packard said he believed he broke his legs in the incident, but medics later said he only had soft tissue injuries and bruises, and he got out of the room. ‘a local hospital later in the day.
He said when he was stuck in the whale’s mouth his thoughts were on his wife and 12 and 15 year old sons.
Packard is an avid fisherman who, in addition to diving for lobsters, catches bluefin tuna off Cape Cod.
Packard runs his own fishing business in Costa Rica called Mar Huron Sportfishing
Pack and his wife Bibi have two sons aged 12 and 15. They were the only ones he was thinking of when he was swallowed up by the whale, he told the Cape Cod Times.
‘I saw light, and he started to throw his head side to side and the next thing I knew I was out [in the water]’Packard said at the point of sale. “My first thought was I can’t believe I got out of this situation. My second thought was how hurt I was, ”Packard said.
Shortly after the experiment, Packard posted about it in the Packard Community Space Facebook group. “I just want to clarify what happened to me today,” he wrote. “I was diving for lobster and a humpback whale tried to eat me. I was in his closed mouth for about 30-40 seconds before he rose to the surface and spit me out. I am very bruised but I have no broken bones. I would like to thank the Provincetown Rescue Team for [their] take care and help.
Packard took to Facebook following the incident to thank the Provincetown rescue team for their “care and help”
Some, however, were incredulous of Packard’s experience.
Peter Corkeron, principal scientist at the New England Aquarium, said there was a one in 1,000 billion chance that someone would be eaten by a whale.
“He was unlucky to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Corkeron conceded.
A doctor at Cape Cod Hospital said Packard should have suffered hearing loss as a result of the abnormal accident. “He would have climbed to a depth of 45 feet in 20 to 40 seconds and had no evidence of barotrauma?” The anonymous emergency doctor told the New York Post.
Other fishermen were also wary of encountering Packard’s whale. “People who work in the fishing industry and people who know whales find it hard to believe this. This is a first for this to happen, ”said another lobster boat.
Although humpback whales can reach 40 tons, their throats are too narrow to swallow a human, experts say. “For a guy to be in the middle of this giant school of fish surrounded by a whale doesn’t make sense. “
He has yet to comment on any of the above claims.
Other experts have sided with Packard. When a humpback whale feeds, he said, “they do what we call sip feeding, and they open their mouths amazingly,” which, according to Jooke Robbins, director of whale studies at bump at the Center for Coastal Studies, could limit their vision advance.
“From what has been described, this should have been a mistake and an accident on the part of the humpback whale,” Robbins concluded, adding that she had no reason to doubt the account.
“I didn’t think it was a hoax because I knew the people involved… So I have every reason to believe what they are saying is true,” she said.
Robbins said she had never heard of such an “accident”, but “he (Packard) might just be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Although the most famous encounter like Packard’s is the biblical story of Jonah and the Whale, similar incidents have occurred in recent history.
Two women were kayaking and whale watching in November 2020 in Avila Beach, California, when a humpback whale attempted to engulf their kayak. Julie McSorley and her friend Liz Cottriel escaped unscathed.
And in February 2019, Rainer Schimpf, a South African environmentalist, was blown away in the mouth of a humpback whale while snorkeling and filming a sardine off the coast of the South African town. from Port Elizabeth, according to an article written by The Guardian at the time.
The Daily Mail reached out to Packard for comment, but did not get an immediate response.