The Real Moby Dick: Michael Packard’s Incredible Story

Michael Packard must have felt that there was nothing different about the fateful Friday morning. He was wrong! Ironically, not every notable event is preceded by instinctive feelings of expectation like Hollywood and Spiderman would want us to believe.

A Humpback Whale next to a scuba diver.

Photo by Richard Shucksmith/Barcroft Media/Getty Images

So, Michael took out his boat that morning. You see, Michael is a lobster diver and unlike some of the less adventurous in his line of work, he doesn’t just drop nets into the ocean hoping for lobsters to climb in; he dives in and catches them himself. Daring, right?

A Bad Couple of Dives

Michael was sailing his boat along the Herring Cove Beach and looking for a diving opportunity. He wasn’t a free diver though and as such, he was decked out in scuba diving gear ready to descend in his search for lobsters.

Waves break on the shore.

Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Michael has been diving for years and he has standards by which he judges his dives, especially when on a lobster picking run like this. Apparently, by his standards, the first dive of the day wasn’t a very good one and he decided he’d be going down a few more times.

A Perfectly Safe Dive

Well, after diving, this adventurer of sorts sought to get down to the business of this trip and gather as many of the lobsters he came to get. The later dives were proving more successful than the first and Michael had managed to pick up about 100 pounds of lobster.

Michael holds a big lobster.

Source: Tumblr

It was in the process of picking up these lobsters that Michael felt the first and only one of his instinctive feelings of anticipation. Unfortunately, it came right before the event itself happened.

A Shove and Total Darkness

Distracted by his lobsters, Michael most likely didn’t notice any change in the water pattern around him until he felt a shove from the back. The power of the shove could not be ascertained as his vision immediately went black.

A view of a massive whale tale.

Photo by Emil Pirzenthal/Barcroft USA/Getty Images

Whether or not Michael knew it at that moment, he had just been swallowed by a whale (just like a certain biblical character) in the process of feeding itself. This was the reason for the darkness he was experiencing, his inability to see and the little squeezing feeling he was experiencing.

Lucky It was a Humpback Whale

He wouldn’t know it for some time yet but as unlikely as Michael was to have been swallowed by a whale, he was also lucky to have been swallowed by a humpback whale. You see, humpback whales have an esophagus that is too small to facilitate their feeding on a human.

An aerial view of a Humpback whale.

Photo by Craig Parry/Barcroft Media/Getty Images

So, maybe the whale intended it, or it didn’t, but he couldn’t eat Michael regardless. That doesn’t mean Michael didn’t play his part in his rescue. He decided he was no sitting duck and struggled within the whale to regain his freedom.

Too Late to Look Back

Despite the struggles of Michael, he could help but think this was the end of the road for him. He could see nothing and all he could feel from within his scuba diving gear was a shifting mass squeezing down on him. All he could do was look back at his life and what he’d be leaving behind.

A view of a Humpback whale.

Photo by Education Images/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Michael had two boys. One was 12 and the other, 15. At the start of the day, neither Michael nor his boys could have known that he would be grazed by death jaws later in the day. And now that he felt like it was coming to an end, he couldn’t think about anything but them.

The Struggle Finally Paid Off

Apparently, humpback whales do not like to feel the struggles of humans in scuba diving gear on their insides. When this particular juvenile whale, which decided to try out an exotic dish of human flesh was finally tired of getting bruised on the insides, it surfaced to ease its discomfort.

A view of a whale’s mouth.

Photo by Mark Votier/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Fortunately for Michael, his struggles in the mouth of a whale paid off and the whale spat him back out. Lucky for him, he had not gone out diving alone and the moment the surfaced whale spat him out, his rescue from the jaws of death was completed by his fishing partner, Josiah Mayo.

What Just Happened to Me?

On the outside, Josiah and Michael struggled to make sense of what just happened. Michael is still disoriented from his earlier underwater showdown with a whale and despite knowing it was a whale and not a shark, he was understandably shaken.

Michael smiles at the camera while lying on the hospital bed.

Source: YouTube

Great white sharks are regular visitors to Cape Cod this time of the year as the seal population in the regions water suit their diet just fine. Thankfully though, this was no shark but a whale that most likely lost its way while doing some feeding of his own.

No Lasting Damage from this Experience

Even after spending about 40 seconds in the mouth of a whale and getting close to being swallowed whole, Michael was thankful that he has sustained no great damage. He had no broken bones to speak of but expectedly, he’d bruised some from all the squeezing the whale subjected him to.

Michael talks to the press.

Source: YouTube

Although he recognized it as an advantage of having been taking in by a humpback whale and not a great white shark. The latter has teeth that crush, meaning that even if he could survive an encounter with it; he’s unlikely to come out as healthy.

The Scuba Gear Deserves Praise as Well

Other than helping Michael’s attempts to free himself from the whale, the scuba gear that he dived in played a part in keeping him conscious and alive. Michael can recognize that without the gear to help him breathe while there, he might have not stayed conscious through his 40-second imprisonment.

A scuba diver under water.

Source: Facebook

For this reason, this particular gear should probably be enshrined. Not every day do you see one of them simultaneously save their owners from suffocating in the mouth of a whale while still facilitating his escape.

The Fear for Great White Sharks Was More than Justified

Turns out that the assumption that Michaels’ attacker was a shark had some basis as in the past, he had encounters with some members of this predatory class. Fortunately for him, each of those times, the sharks decided he wouldn’t make a nice enough meal.

Great White Sharks seasonally gather.

Photo by Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

Furthermore, this adventurer had more near-death experiences under his belt than most. This factored into the relative calmness he felt after being spat out by the whale. He was shaken but not too shook to speak.

Awe at a Once-in-a-Million Lifetimes Tale

Immediately following the rescue, Josiah and Michael figured out that there were no broken bones, and that Michael was mostly just bruised, but they feared some other internal problems and Josiah called an ambulance and the rescue squad before contacting Michael’s wife.

A view of a hospital bed.

Photo by Jonas Güttler/picture-alliance/Getty Images

At the hospital, everyone seemed to be in awe at what Michael had just experienced. Many of the nurses, doctors and hospital staff wanted to hear the story of what had happened, with a particular nurse even asking for lottery numbers!

Free to Go Home

After the doctors were done with their tests and evaluations, they informed Michael that he had no broken bones or embolism. However, he was informed that his legs were badly bruised, and he had suffered a dislocation in his knee.

A picture of Michael and his sons on the bay.

Josiah Packard, Michael Packard, Jacob Packard. Photo by Kathy Ward

Seeing as his health and results weren’t bad, he was told that he could leave for home later in the day. Michael couldn’t have known at the beginning of the day that a whale would swallow him or that despite the swallowing; he would still be home with his family that night. So lucky!

The Story of the Modern-Day Jonah Experience Spreads Far and Wide

It would be hard to keep such a fantastical story under wraps and Michaels story didn’t accept its covers as well. The story spread quickly around town and he subsequently found himself making local, national and even international headlines in some cases.

The biblical image of Jonah and the whale.

Source: Wikipedia

In an alternate world, having happened to a different person, the story might have been labeled ludicrous but with the eyewitnesses here and Michael’s reputation as an angler to boot, this story was as believable as it could get.

Consequences of the Encounter

Luckily for Michael Packard, there are no long-term effects of this encounter to be worried about and the bruised leg may cause him to stay grounded for a few weeks but it’s only a matter of time before he’s back on the ocean for another trip.

A picture of Michael Packard in his house.

Source: Reddit

Michael and Mayo are optimistic that they could shorten this break away from the ocean even further. What is a raid recovery from potential whale ingestion compared to the whale ingestion itself?

The Experience Opens New Doors

Much in the way that Jonah’s experience with his whale opened his eyes to the error of his ways, Michael’s experience opened new doors; but economic rather than spiritual doors. Michael, in the spirit of managing his newfound fame well, took advantage of this Jimmy Kimmel-shaped door.

A portrait of Jimmy Kimmel.

Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Jimmy Kimmel introduced him as “the man who went inside a Humpback whale the hard way” to laughter from the crowd. At the very beginning of the show, Michael admitted to being scared as they offered him a whale themed seat to occupy.

Back into the Mouth of the Whale

Michael is offered a seat designed to look like the mouth of a whale but Michael, playing his role to perfection and still grounded thanks to his bruised leg and dislocation, accepts it after some jocular hesitation. Jimmy Kimmel is, however, not one to play and he sure had more in store.

Josiah, Michael, and Jimmy Kimmel in a still from the show.

Source: Tumblr

Michael listened while Jimmy recount his previous escapades about face-offs with sharks, his discovery of a lost body within the ocean and even a plane crash that claimed lives. Michael listened as Jimmy took shots at him.

Bad Luck Michael

Jimmy, in his ever-running comedic sequences, warns Josiah to be careful as Michael may be bad luck. This is an allusion to all the unsavory experiences he has had to live through at this point in his life. All of this helped paint a picture that was completed by Jimmy announcing that Michael was swallowed by a whale.

A still from Jimmy Kimmel’s interview with Michael.

Source: YouTube

Michael, eager to save what remained of his good luck persona and to get in on the fun as well, reiterated to Jimmy that he wasn’t swallowed but was merely trapped in the mouth of the Humpback.

Jimmy Loves Swallowed Better than Trapped

As the head Honcho of his show, Jimmy made sure that Michael and the audience undersood that he’s boss and the story he likes best is the one of Michael being swallowed. At this point, the crowd just had to applaud the man.

Jimmy Kimmel gifts Michael a shirt.

Source: YouTube

A joke about how the whale would have needed to pass Michael out the other end if he had swallowed him is shared and Josiah then tells the story from the perspective and angle from which he witnessed it.

Michaels “Little Legs” and “Hit by a Freight Truck”

Josiah tells a quite colorful tale of the experience that features the disappointment of two bad dives, the hopefulness for a third successful dive, the faultless descent of Michael into the ocean, a lot of splashing and bubbles and Michaels little legs peeking out at the end.

Jimmy Kimmel gifts Michael a ‘’whale repellent.’’

Source: YouTube

Michael comes in at the end of Josiah’s tale letting the audience know that the hit from the whale felt like the impact from a freight truck. In line with the humor of the show, he also offers some acceptably exaggerated but funny rendition of how he figured out he wasn’t in a shark.

The Whale Must Go On, Just Like This Show

Apparently, despite having a struggling human in its mouth, the whale was reluctant to stop moving and Michael narrates how he could tell the whale was in motion even from within its mouth. He even lets the world know that he didn’t take he was getting out, but the whale was boss.

Michael talks while sitting inside a puppet whale.

Source: YouTube

Just when Michael must have been feeling like it was all done, he says the whale spat him out and released him from misery. Michael also tells Jimmy that despite believing he was the only one with this “Jonah moment”, he has met a South African with the same experience.

More and More Humor

Josiah looks like a really serious guy and he’s sharing how he and another of their friends managed to get Michael out of the ocean and into the boat before Michael interjects with another funny rendition of his first words. It when; thus, “I was in a fucking whale’s mouth”.

A whale-shaped chocolate cake.

Source: YouTube

The crowd just hoots and applauds his humor at this time. Josiah tells the audience that Michael’s wife required two separate calls to come to terms with her husband’s latest adventure. All the while, Michael sits there, just smiling.

A Conspiracy Theory is Proposed

Jimmy came prepared for this show and he proposed the theory that maybe the lobsters met up with the whale beforehand and arranged a deal to rid themselves of their human predator. He even claims that maybe they watched the episode with pleasure.

A picture of an adult lobster.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

And then, Jimmy takes the show back to his long-running pseudo-rivalry with Matt Damon. It appears that when asked which actor Michael would love to see play the role of himself in a movie, he had replied with Matt Damon.

Jimmy’s History with Matt Damon

To completely understand the Jimmy Kimmel-Matt Damon situation and what comes next, let me digress a bit and introduce you to their situation. Their fake feud has run for the better part of two decades.

A picture of Matt Damon and Jimmy Kimmel.

Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images

It started from a joke Jimmy ran to salvage an episode of his show that he describes as “lame”. Since then, though, the joke has spawned a full prank war that involved Sarah Silverman, Ben Affleck and even the show itself.

“I Wondered why you would Aim so Low.”

Jimmy, looking humorously offended by the idea that Michael would consider his arch-rival to play himself in a movie, asks him why he would resort to such a low blow but attempts to see a silver lining to such a scenario by asking if the whales’ mouth could somehow be Matt’s final destination in life.

An illustration of Pinocchio and Geppetto in the whale’s mouth.

Photo by Marka/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

The crowd, always eager to fan the flames of the pseudo feud, applauds Jimmy’s dark humor. Jimmy then goes on to reflect on just how much of a good story this would make for Michael to share with acquaintances.

Jimmy Reveals his Initial Doubts and Offers Advice to Humpback Whales

It seems even jimmy Kimmel was unwilling to believe that such a story could have been true. He was one of Michaels few doubters but seeing Michael and Josiah on the news, sharing their experience swayed him.

Jimmy Kimmel speaks on stage.

Photo by Chris Polk/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Josiah stated that if not for Michael’s reputation, people may not have been eager to believe that a man was trapped in the mouth of a whale, and Jimmy Joked that Humpback whales should learn from the experience and swallow only credible men lest they lose their fame.

Here come the Hilarious Gifts

Jimmy Kimmel is popular for the affectionate way that he milks situations while keeping his guests comfortable and the audience laughing and he continues to dig in his bag of tricks, in this case, a bag of gifts for more jokes.

The Free Willy DVD cover.

Source: Tumblr

He offers Michael gifts that include a DVD of the popular whale movie, Free Willy, a hilarious product called a MO-begone whale repellant (that alludes to Moby Dick) and a stereotypical male-thirst shirt that says, “Kiss me: I got swallowed by a whale.”.

Michael Strikes Back in One Last Attack

Michael and Jimmy have had a very interesting joust for humor master on the show up until this point and despite Jimmy wowing the crowd with his arsenal of funny gifts (he even offered a whale-shaped cake with a man in it), Michael goes for his crown again.

Michael poses holding a big lobster.

Source: Facebook

Looking somber and apologetic, Michael used this medium to apologize to the whale “for getting in his way”, promising to never do it again. He then broke out in a smile and advertised his lobsters. As a favor to Michael, he sold his lobsters through a wholesaler called “Well Fish Shell Fish Company”.

Jimmy has the Last Laugh though

Renaming Michael and Josiah as the whale guys, before ending the show, Jimmy offered them some marketing advice, telling them that they could take the whale mouth prop seat and pile their lobsters in them as a sales gimmick.

A screengrab from the episode.

Source: Jimmy Kimmel

Michael can’t say he hasn’t had a lot of fun from his near ingestion by a whale. All from this experience, he has appeared on all sorts of news, online publications and now, Jimmy Kimmel. Well, it’s good for business for all parties concerned.

What Has Happened to Michael Packard?

Well, it’s hard to say exactly what Michael Packard is up to now or what he is doing, but it is most probable that even while his tale is being transformed into legend, he is somewhere in Cape Cod diving for lobsters.

A fresh lobster sign on Cape Cod.

Photo by John Greim/LightRocket/Getty Images

As for his most recent media appearance, he was on a more serious show (60 minutes Australia), where he again regaled his host, Karl Stefanovic, with his story once again. You can gain the man for sharing his story whenever he gets the opportunity; the story never gets old.

60 Minutes Australia

All of the drama of a Jimmy Kimmel Show aside, on 60 minutes Australia, Michael got to share the emotional part of the story and what came after. It came as no surprise when he said on air that he couldn’t help but shed tears when he was back on deck.

A still of Michael sailing during the televised interview.

Source: Facebook

Michael spent the whole trip back to shore on the deck, crying, and generally grateful that he was going to make it back to his family. It had to have been relieving surviving an experience such as this, especially knowing that he had people who would have grieved him if it turned out worse.

Tough Times in the Past

It turns out that the Michael that was so open and free during his appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show has not had the sweet, ever-happy life that his demeanor may indicate. His life has been full of its challenges and tough times and maybe those contributed to the strength he showed.

Michael speaks in the televised interview.

Source: Facebook

Karl reveals during the show that Michael’s father left when he was 10 and within the same year, his 18-year-old elder brother went missing on a hiking trip. Talk about an emotional double-whammy in a single year.

From Sad Boy to the Man of the House

There was to be no lifetime of sulking for Michael though as even though he had a mother who raised him and his three sisters, he was immediately thrust into the role of man of the family as he was the only male child.

Michael’s son holds one of his lobsters.

Photo by Michael Packard

As his mother says, “he’s our (their) man in the family”. She offered this view on the show, reiterating that “he’s the man” and that “he makes the really big decisions”, even going as far as revealing that she goes to him for advice and that she respects him as well as loves him.

Anne Packard, the Artist

Turns out that Michael’s mom, who was interviewed by Karl, has had a taste of fame before her son’s Humpback whale encounter. She shares with Karl how she went from painting just to make a living to slowly becoming quite successful at it and he jokes about how she must paint this experience.

A portrait of Anne Packard in her studio.

Source: Anne Packard

She states very matter-of-factly how she feels about her son’s seemingly toxic relationship with the sea. She calls it the love of his life and expresses that even though he’s not safe there, he for some reason feels complete there.

An Interesting Perspective into the Life of Michael Packard

Anne continues to offer her opinions of the “whaleman”, stating that despite the danger he faces beneath the sea that he’s lucky to at least have something that he loves and that seems to complete him in the way it does. I have to agree with her on that point.

A picture of Michael with his sons outside their home.

Source: YouTube

Karl then drafts Josiah to share his part of this fascinating story. Josiah expresses a fear that even though Michael could have died from the whale encounter, on the balance of things, he could have died nine different ways in the past.

The Miracle we Didn’t Call One

Josiah offers that it’s hard to even fathom how a man could have come back intact from an experience that most men would have been unwilling to experience and that to him, this should be considered a kind of miracle and Karl agrees with the opinion.

A whale scrambles for a ball of sardines.

Photo by Silke Schimpf/Barcroft Animals/Getty Images

Karl goes on to share how he feels that a bruised leg and dislocated knee would have been the least of Michaels problems had the whale’s jaws clamped down on his head and/or back. This was a real possibility given that he was trapped shut in its mouth.

The Luck of the Draw

Still, on the encounter and just how bad it could have ended, Josiah also speaks on how the Humpback whales are known to have really powerful jaw strengths. He shared with Karl that this jaw power is necessary to help them trap as much volume of water and fish as they could get.

A conservator at the museum cleans a whale’s jaw.

Photo by Andrew Parsons/PA Images/Getty Images

Then, they share a valid joke but a joke nonetheless about not knowing who may have come out worse from the encounter, the Humpback whale or Michael Packard. According to Karl, “that whale must have got his snack wrong”, and this is quite true because his size and diving gear must surely have caused damage.

Back to that Josiah-Mrs. Packard Call

Mrs. Packard had needed two calls to completely grasp exactly what Josiah was trying to tell her and even then, she still seemed to be wondering exactly how the incident could have happened. I can’t blame her though; how many people get swallowed (taken in) by a whale?

Michael Packard and Josiah after fishing a tuna fish.

Source: New York Times

She says to Karl that she was very thankful when she finally saw Michael alive but that the doctor had told her beforehand that he was stable, talking and just as Josiah had said, been spat out of the mouth of a Humpback whale.

“I Just Wouldn’t Have Gone On”

If the metric of a man’s worth were the words of his parent, then Michael Packard is a great man. According to his mum in a reply to Karl’s question, if her son had not returned or survived this encounter, she doesn’t see how she would have moved on from that.

A snorkeler and a humpback whale.

Photo by Reinhard Dirscherl/ullstein bild/Getty Images

She goes on to say that she doubts the family as a whole would have been able to go on with life, and from the mouth of a woman who has lost two men in the same family, which speaks to the importance of Michael.

Moving Forward and Considering his Approach to the Future

Michael is quite the survivor and despite his chipper attitude (or as a consequence of it) he has come out of near-drowning and a deadly plane crash in a Costa Rican Jungle but after his mom questions what effect all of these experiences could have on his head, maybe a reevaluation is necessary.

Michael speaks in a televised interview.

Source: YouTube

Not everyone survives a bad lobster diving incident and beyond the fanfare that followed his experience and all of the doubt that would surely have accompanied his tale, we hope that this would be the last of his near-death experiences.