6.5 C
New York
Sunday, July 25, 2021

Can you survive being swallowed by a whale? This man did

Must Read

Manish Saini
Manish works as a Journalist and writer at Revyuh.com. He has studied Political Science and graduated from Delhi University. He is a Political engineer, fascinated by politics, and traditional businesses. He is also attached to many NGO's in the country and helping poor children to get the basic education. Email: Manish (at) revyuh (dot) com

Michael Packard is a young diver who was swallowed and later spat out by a cetacean in Massachusetts. An expert analyzes how he managed to get out of the event alive

“All of a sudden, I felt this huge shove and the next thing I knew it was completely black. I could sense I was moving, and I could feel the whale squeezing with the muscles in his mouth.”

These are the surprising statements of Michael Packard, an American diver who was diving in the waters of Cape Cod, off the coast of Massachusetts), when he submerged in shallow waters (about 3 meters according to ‘Alternet‘, although it seems that he was taken with him to a seabed between 10 and 13 meters deep) and was swallowed by a humpback whale that swallowed him for about 30 or 40 seconds before spitting him out again.

The young diver surfaced after being expelled by the marine animal and is currently in a recovery period at a hospital in the area. 

“I could sense I was moving, and I could feel the whale squeezing with the muscles in his mouth.” 

At first, he believed that his end had come by assuming that instead of being this mammal he was being swallowed by a great white shark. But fortunately, the nightmare was short-lived and he was able to emerge unscathed from the event.

The Packard story has caused a stir in the United States and on social media. 

Can a person really survive an incident like this? 

The problem is not only based on being swallowed or not by the whale, but by the sudden change in pressure, which experienced divers know by the term ‘barotrauma‘. 

Hence, some personalities in the world of American television have doubted the veracity of the story, since anyone else, under normal circumstances, would have died. 

But assuming that Packard is a professional and experienced diver, he might know a trick on how to position the body to avoid injury from barometric pressure.

What does science say about it? 

If we think about the background, literary stories come to mind like those of ‘Pinocchio’, Disney’s adaptation of the universal tale by Italian Carlo Collodi, in which a whale swallows the father of the puppet, Gepetto. 

But in reality, this is a license granted by the cartoon producer, since in the original story a shark is the animal that gobbles up Pinocchio’s father. After analyzing the Packard case, is it really possible to survive being swallowed by a whale?

“It’s about the size of a small Volkswagen Bug. Think about the size of a Beetle car, in terms of the volume,” explains Joy Reidenberg, a doctor and professor at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, who is currently researching these ocean mammals. 

“Getting into a whale’s mouth is like getting into a not very big car but without seats. When you’re in a space like that, the throat and tongue area is very elastic, so it must be a lot like jumping in a bouncy castle”. 

However, “the sides of the mouth are very hard, as is the jaw, which is made of bone.” 

The teacher also warns that the inside of a whale’s mouth is extremely “hairy,” with “baleen plates hanging down from it on either side.”

What about Packard’s description of how dark the interior was? 

“Of course, no light enters a whale’s mouth,” says Reidenberg. 

“You might not even see this whale coming. I’m sure trying to eat him wasn’t intentional — which is why he was released — but if you are a fish, the camouflage of the whale’s mouth is perfectly adapted for the way that it feeds. The inside throat area is actually black where the tongue is. So it’s just like darkness coming toward you”.

Another point in Packard’s story that they most doubt is true is that he held his breath for so long. 

“Most people can not hold their breath for that long,” acknowledges the expert.” 

The problem is twofold: you get very disoriented by being dragged into the mouth of this animal. If you try to get out by force it is worse, because everything is dark.

“What definitely saved the diver from being finally swallowed was the small size of the cetacean’s throat.”

“It’s very narrow,” acknowledges Reidenberg. 

“I’ve dissected a lot of whales, and I’ve tried to put my arm down the throat of a dead whale, and I can barely get my arm down that throat. So it’d be really hard for my whole body to go down that throat. It’s too small of an opening, and that’s because these animals are not swallowing large prey — they’re swallowing lots of little tiny things. Feeding is kind of like drinking a thick milkshake for them. They squeeze out the water and then they have this flurry of little tiny fish or tiny shrimp-like animals that they swallow, and that flurry can go down to very small things.”

So if we tried to put ourselves in the whale’s skin, what did he really feel when the diver entered his mouth? 

“I would think: ‘there is something too big here to be a prey because it does not compress when I squeeze the muscles'”, emphasizes the expert. 

“The greatest danger to the person was that the whale was rising to the surface, which caused a sudden change in pressure that caused the air in his body to begin to expand. And if he panicked, the person could be injured by not releasing the extra air, freaking out and holding his breath, which is what many of us do when we are scared. As an experienced diver, you probably knew that you should continue to exhale when you felt pressure if you realized you were inside a whale.”

Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest News

Study reveals the harmful side effect of fasting

When do you go on fasting, both religiously and as a personal choice? If that's the case, you may...
- Advertisement -

More Articles Like This

- Advertisement -