Whale hits boat in drama on high seas

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

SYD­NEY — A man was knocked un­con­scious and three others suf­fered fa­cial frac­tures and bro­ken ribs af­ter a whale slammed into a char­ter fish­ing boat off Aus­tralia’s north coast, the skip­per said on Mon­day.

The nine-me­ter ves­sel was re­turn­ing to port in the Whitsundays off the Queens­land state coast with eight pas­sen­gers on board when a hump­back whale rammed it from be­low, send­ing it air­borne.

“Within a split sec­ond we all hit the floor, the boat launched up into the air and it dis­lodged ev­ery­one off their feet,” Cap­tain Oliver Galea told AFP of the drama on Sat­ur­day. “None of us knew what hap­pened.”

A 71-year-old South African man was knocked out and tended to by the boat’s crew while they alerted emer­gency ser­vices. A he­li­copter es­corted the boat to shore where four men were sent to hos­pi­tal.

The tourist was treated for a bro­ken nose, while Galea needed eight stitches for a nasty head wound. A third pas­sen­ger suf­fered fa­cial frac­tures and an­other bro­ken ribs.

“We see whales all the time, but it’s never (been) known for this sort of thing to hap­pen,” Galea said, ad­ding that some of the pas­sen­gers spot­ted what they be­lieved to be a hump­back in the wa­ter af­ter the ac­ci­dent.

Each year hump­back whales mi­grate north from the Antarc­tic to the warmer cli­mate off Aus­tralia’s coast­line to mate and give birth. They can grow up to 16 me­ters long.

The or­deal has not de­terred any of the pas­sen­gers, Galea said, who were “all in good spir­its” af­ter they got to­gether Sun­day to eat their pre­vi­ous day’s catch.

“The main thing is we all got home, and we have a few bat­tle scars to show,” he added.

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