A teenager has been left in a critical condition after a breaching whale landed on top of his boat near Narooma on NSW’s south coast over the weekend.
The 18-year-old man was fishing with a 39-year-old skipper on Sunday when the whale launched itself out of the water and onto their boat.
Despite taking on water, the skipper managed to alert Marine Rescue NSW and navigate the vessel back to the boat ramp, where paramedics met them.
Both men were treated and taken to Moruya Hospital, with the younger man later airlifted to Canberra Hospital after sustaining a serious head injury. He remains in a critical, but stable condition.
The skipper was treated for facial lacerations and a concussion.
Following the report, NSW Police shared some photos of the damaged boat.
Marine Area Commander, Superintendent Joe McNulty has now urged anyone out at sea to be careful during the whale migration season.
“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,” McNulty said in a statement.
“Given the close proximity to the shoreline, there is potential for some spectacular whale watching, but we encourage anyone hoping to get a closer look to maintain a safe distance as outlined in the Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017.”
Maritime NSW has launched an investigation into the incident, especially as it believes the whale may have also been injured. It is now working with the state’s National Parks and Wildlife Service as well as the Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia to monitor and assist the animal, if it needs help.
The exact size and species of the whale is currently unknown.
Superintendent McNulty reminded people that following the regulations isn’t just for their safety, but also for the protection of the whales.
“You must not approach a whale any closer than 100 metres on a vessel, including boats, surf skis and kayaks, or 300 metres on a prohibited vessel, which includes jet skis,” McNulty said.
He added that swimmers and divers must not enter the water within 100 metres of a whale and make sure they maintain a distance of at least 30 metres in any direction.