A professional lobster diver has been injured after he was almost swallowed by a humpback whale off the coast of Cape Cod.
Michael Packard, 56, was about 45 feet deep in the waters off Provincetown when he “felt a huge bump, and everything went dark".
He thought he had been attacked by a shark, common in the area’s waters, but then realised he could not feel any teeth and he was not in any pain.
"Then I realised, oh my God, I’m in a whale’s mouth ... and he’s trying to swallow me," he told WBZ-TV.
"And I thought to myself OK, this is it - I’m finally - I’m gonna die."
He said his thoughts immediately went to his wife and children.
He thinks he was in the whale’s mouth for about 30 seconds but continued to breathe because he still had his breathing apparatus in.
Then the whale surfaced, shook its head and spat him out. He was rescued by his crewmate in the surface boat.
His sister, Cynthia Packard, originally told the Cape Cod Times that her brother broke a leg, but he said later that his legs are just bruised.
Charles "Stormy" Mayo, a senior scientist and whale expert at the Centre for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, told the newspaper that such human-whale encounters are unusual.
Humpbacks are not aggressive and Dr Mayo speculated it was an accidental encounter while the whale was feeding on fish, likely sand lance.
Humpback whales can weigh about 36 tons and grow to as long as 50ft (15m).
According to the World Wildlife Fund, their global population is about 60,000.
Additional reporting by Associated Press