It happened in Massachusetts when fisherman Michael Packard was diving for lobsters. It was inside the mouth of the cetacean for at least 30 seconds until the animal decided to launch it.
It is a Pinocchio story, which could be considered innocent if it were not credible to cetacean experts: a humpback whale "swallowed" a Massachusetts (United States) lobster fisherman on Friday and then spat it out safe and sound, and able to tell his adventure.
"Hello everyone, I want to clarify what happened to me today," wrote fisherman Michael Packard, from Provincetown, about 200 km east of Boston, after his story was picked up by the local newspaper, the Cape Cod Times.
"I was diving for lobsters when a humpback whale tried to eat me. I was inside his closed mouth for 30 to 40 seconds before he surfaced and spat at me. I have bruises all over but no broken bones. I thank the Provincetown lifeguards for their care and help," said Packard.
"Then it dawned on me, oh my gosh, I'm in a whale's mouth ... and it's trying to swallow me," he commented. "I thought, well, this is the moment, I'm going to die," he added while claiming to have thought of his wife and children.
There is at least one reliable witness: Josiah Mayo was accompanying him on this fishing. He told the Cod Times that he saw his partner being ejected by the whale in the Atlantic Ocean and called lifeguards.
And it turns out that Mayo is the son of one of the researchers and whale experts at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, Jooke Robbins, director of humpback whale studies at that institution, told the AFP news agency.
"I know the people involved ... so I have every reason to believe that what they say is true," Robbins said.
He had never heard of a similar "accident," but "it is possible that (the fisherman) was in the wrong place, at the wrong time," he estimated.
When these whales look for food," they launch themselves with their mouths open, they swallow fish and water very quickly. Then they reject the water through their baleen," which act "like a filter," he explained.
"His mouth is quite big," but "his throat is quite narrow, there is no chance that he can swallow something as big," as a man, he added.
The humpback whale, which according to Mayo, was still young, could "not detect fast enough that there was an intruder" in its mouth, the expert explained. Once she "swallowed" the man, it is possible that "she was rather surprised and opened her mouth to blow him away," she added.
Although all the details are unknown, he assures that a conclusion is imposed: the Provincetown and Cape Cod region begins to notice the return of tourists after 15 months of the pandemic, and "people must be aware" of the presence of these powerful marine mammals, which adults, depending on age, measure between nine and 15 meters.
And if you see a whale, stay away. It is really important to leave space for the whales," he said.