A teenager was severely injured when a whale breached the surface of the water near where he was fishing and landed on his boat.
The young man, named only as Nick in local reports, is about to turn 19. He was out his step-father on a boat off the south coast of New South Wales, in Australia, near their home town of Narooma at around 8am on June 6, enjoying a quiet Sunday morning’s fishing.
Without warning large humpback whale surfaced from under the water, and landed on their boat. The two blokes had no idea there were any whales in the vicinity.
Both Nick and his step-father Matt, 39, were crushed by the huge animal, but Nick bore the brunt of the impact.
“He is currently in a coma, with a broken back, and severe head injuries. At this stage, we don’t know when he will wake up, or how this has affected his brain,” wrote Carmen Bartley, who is organising a fundraiser to help with his medical expenses.
Fortunately, Matt managed to make a mayday call despite his injuries and nurse his shattered boat back to shore.
Local boatman Francois Van Zyl was getting ready to launch his boat for a dive tour when he saw paramedics rushing to treat the two men.
“Being a small town, I offered my assistance when I saw two gentlemen were being treated on the jetty,” he told the Mandurah Mail.
He said the stricken boat had been badly damaged by the whale, and he was surprised it had stayed afloat: “The console area was separated from the hull,” he said.
“It wasn’t a very large boat, I am surprised it hadn’t submerged.”
“We saw lots of whales, they were everywhere,” he added.
“You would be looking at one whale and then four would pop up behind you.”
A spokesperson for NSW Maritime, which is responsible for marine safety in the region, said the incident had occurred at around 7.50am: “A whale breached and landed on two men travelling to go fishing in a 4.9 metre cabin runabout, about 500 metres off Narooma.
“The younger of the men suffered critical injuries and remains in hospital.”
Matt suffered a concussion and facial lacerations and has now been released from hospital. Nick’s outlook is still uncertain. “At this stage we don’t know what the future holds,” says Carmen, “but [we] are assuming Nick will need modifications to [his] home, and possibly even need to move to a larger house depending on his needs.”
Marine Area Commander Superintendent Joe McNulty told reporters: “While inquiries are in their infancy, the incident demonstrates the dangers these mammals can pose to those on the water.
“In recent days, the number of whales migrating north has dramatically increased, and maritime authorities have received reports they’re travelling closer to the coast than in previous years.”