Whale Crashes Onto Small Boat, Sending Two to Hospital

Two people were hospitalized after a whale landed on the deck of their boat on Sunday.

The incident occurred off the coast of New South Wales—located in the southeast of Australia—near Narooma, the South Coast Register reported.

A 39-year-old man, suffered facial cuts and a suspected concussion as the whale crashed onto the small boat he was piloting. The other individual, an 18-year-old man, suffered serious head and neck injuries.

The pair called for help through the marine radio and returned to a boat ramp north of Narooma at around 8 a.m. local time on Sunday where they were met by paramedics who rushed them to hospital, New South Wales (NSW) Ambulance said, according to the Illawarra Mercury and news.com.au.

The 18-year-old was later flown to another hospital with a suspected fractured neck, police said, noting that he was in critical condition.

Officials from the Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia and National Parks and Wildlife are monitoring the area where the incident occurred to ensure the safety of the whale.

Members of the public had reported multiple whale sightings in the waters off Narooma and nearby Montague Island on Sunday.

Incidents like these where whales crash onto boats are not unheard of. In many cases, they can be explained by a whale—usually a juvenile—making a mistake rather than an intentional attack, Robert Kenney, from the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island in Narragansett, told New Scientist.

Marine vessels pose a significant risk to whales—and indeed other marine animals—due to the potential for collisions.

These collisions can occur anywhere where vessels cross paths with marine life, particularly in areas with significant commercial traffic, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries.

Marine animals can be difficult to see for vessel operators because they are not always clearly visible from the surface. And even if pilots do manage to see the animals, they may not be able to stop the vessel in time to avoid a collision.

These collisions can result in death or significant injuries to whales. In some cases, the collisions result in damage to the vessels or or even injuries to the operators members.

Some whale species, such as the endangered North Atlantic right whale, are particularly vulnerable to vessel strikes due to the fact that their migration routes often overlap with shipping lanes.

A humpback whale
Stock image showing a humpback whale breaching the surface of the ocean. A whale crashed onto a boat off the coast of Australia on Sunday, injuring two people. iStock