A humpback whale threw a fishing boat into the air off the coast of Australia on Saturday, Aug. 5, knocking two men unconscious and injuring others.
The 28-foot boat was carrying five tourists and three crew members when the whale slammed into the vessel, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported Monday.
The vessel was returning from a fishing trip near the Whitsunday Islands on Australia’s northeastern coast when the giant collision happened.
One of the toursists was sent to a hospital with severe facial injuries, two people suffered broked ribs, and another had a broken nose.
Captain Oliver Galea was knocked over and cut his forehead. The deep cut required eight stitches.
“He’s [the whale] come up—or she—and she’s thrown the boat up in the air with a bit of a twist and dislodged everyone off their feet within half a second,” Galea said.
“Nobody hears of it—it’s not something that happens commonly—it’s just one-off, one in a million.
“It happened so fast we didn’t know what we hit or what happened—then we saw a whale in the distance behind us,” he said.
According to the boat’s co-owner, Rachel Carpenter, who was not on board at the time of the collission, it was a mircale that no one was killed.
“There could have been so many worse scenarios; they’re so lucky they landed upright in the water and the boat wasn’t capsized and nobody was thrown out of the boat,” she told local media.
The Whitsunday Islands are a whale nursery, with the giant mammals choosing to give birth in the warm coastal waters.
“These huge, unpredictable mammals may surface, slap their tails or leap out of the water unexpectedly around vessels,” the Department of Environment and Heritage said.
“Skippers need to keep a lookout at all times—even if skippers avoid cutting across the path of a whale or going within the approach limits, humpbacks may approach or nudge boats.
“If a skipper becomes concerned about the safety of their vessel and passengers due to a whale’s behaviour, he/she should stop, slow down and/or steer away from the whale immediately,” he said.
Humans are rarely injured in ecounters with whales. Most of the recent incidents involved vessels that came closer to the whales than the 295 feet experts recommend.
A 3-year-old child was killed in 2003 when a humpback whale collided with a whale spotting boat near Hawaii.