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Pax knocked cold as whale and charter boat collide

August 9, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

It was a one-off whale experience like no other. A charter boat was hurled out of the water, its skipper gashed his head and two passengers were knocked unconscious when a whale surfaced under the boat off the coast of Bowen on Queensland’s Whitsunday Coast.

Ironically, it wasn’t even a whale-watching trip, although the company involved does offer those.

The Brisbane Times delivered an account yesterday of the dramatic collision.

A-One Fishing Charters skipper Oliver Galea, two crewmen and five customers were heading home last Saturday after a day of fishing.

Humpback Whale surfacing

Then, wham! The 8.5-metre aluminium boat soared out of the sea and became airborne.

Galea said the incident happened northeast of Gloucester Island. Pictures on Facebook showed Galea with a deep gash on his forehead. Another photo showed the wound stitched up.

The ABC said a large humpback whale, a species that can reach up to 45 tonnes, breached underneath the boat. The impact knocked two men unconscious and one of them, an international tourist, remained in the Proserpine Hospital last night with severe facial injuries.

The three other injured men were treated and released.

Oliver Galea after treatment. Facebook

“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.

He said it was a “one-off, one in a million” incident and so fast crew only worked out what had happened after they saw a whale in the distance behind them.

The ABC quoted a spokesperson for Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage (EHP) saying about 30,000 humpback whales were migrating along the state’s coast this year, the species having made a remarkable comeback since the 1960s when hunting stopped.

EHP and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service recommends caution when sailing during the humpback migration.

Written by Peter Needham

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