It's hard not to compare with Pinocchio.
On the Provincetown community Space Facebook group - bringing together residents of this American city near Boston - the words of Michael Packard are intriguing.
On Friday, he told the social network that he was fishing for lobster when a "humpback whale tried to eat [it]."
The man continues his story: "I was in his mouth closed for 30 to 40 seconds before it comes to the surface and spits me out."
And to conclude "I have bruises everywhere, but nothing to break".
Obviously, the unusual story quickly went viral.
The fisherman has been questioned by numerous media, offering new details of his mishap.
While underwater, in snorkel gear, he smelled like a blow, then found himself in the dark.
"I felt movements, pressure [...] I told myself
this is not a shark ... so I must have just been eaten by a whale
I have been diving for 40 years, so I didn't know it was possible, but I said to myself that
it can't be anything else, I'm in a whale now,
”he told journalist Rex in particular. Chapman.
Veteran Cape Cod lobster diver Michael Packard was swallowed whole by a humpback whale and lives to tell the story… pic.twitter.com/CQcCP2fdVs
- Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) June 12, 2021
In this most uncomfortable situation, the 56-year-old obviously believed he was dead, even though he had managed to keep his regulator immersed in his mouth and therefore could breathe, as he explained in an interview with his discharged from hospital at CBS Boston.
Eventually, the cetacean rose to the surface and spat out the diver.
If the story is taken seriously across the Atlantic, it is because a man - the son of a whale expert from the Provincetown Coastal Studies Center, AFP said - witnessed the scene and came. to help Michael Packard when he comes out of the water.
"We are always surprised with cetaceans"
For Eric Demay, cetacean specialist and member of the Tursiops association, “in theory, a man can actually fit into the mouth of a humpback whale.
They have a very flexible lower jaw, which allows them to swallow an enormous amount of water and food ”.
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These cetaceans generally use a hunting technique of forming a bubble wall to contain their prey - krill or small fish like herring - before swallowing them.
"But since the 1980s, precisely in Boston Bay, there are not enough herrings, the whales have therefore had to fall back on the eels and change their hunting technique, hitting the water" to stun their prey, adds the specialist.
Once their jaw is full, they close. The food is then swallowed and the water rejected via the baleen, which acts as a filter, through which "even krill does not pass". In this case, the man will of course have been spat out by the open mouth of the whale, which had not managed to swallow it, because the throat of this species is "quite narrow, there is no chance that they can swallow something big, ”specifies for his part to AFP Jooke Robbins, director of studies on humpback whales at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown.
"I am quite skeptical about this story ... But with cetaceans, we are always surprised, so I cannot say that it did not take place", continues Eric Demay, who however evokes an incident "quite exceptional ”. It could also be caused by human behavior. "For man to have been able to enter a whale, the latter had to be an adult, experienced and therefore knowing what it is hunting", begins the specialist, who assures us that this behavior is therefore "not normal" . Did the man find himself in the middle of a ban of fish? Or did he get too close to the animal? "Nowadays, many are not aware of the danger, they go too close, and we will see more and more accidents", regrets the specialist,who himself swam with whales and sharks "while keeping his distance". If this phenomenon were to occur again, it would translate, according to him, to a much deeper problem: the lack of food.