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Did whale-watch photos lead to man’s death in Sydney?

June 12, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Whether a man was taking photos of whales will be among the questions a coroner examines when he probes the man’s sudden death at the weekend in Sydney.

The man, believed to be aged in his 30s, died after falling from a cliff near a whale-watching platform at Cape Solander in Sydney’s south on Saturday afternoon, police said.

The man was said to have been taking photographs of whales just before the accident happened at Kurnell, not far from Sydney Airport.

Receiving reports that a man had fallen into the sea, a Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter flew to Cape Solander cliffs, in Kamay Botany Bay National Park. There, crew found a man floating face down and unconscious immediately below a whale-watching platform.

Cape Solander, Kamay Botany Bay National Park. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. Photo: Andy Richards

He was taken from the water but attempts to revive him failed. Police believe the dead man may have been taking photographs at the whale-watching platform, set back a short distance from the cliffs, before his fatal plunge.

A report will be prepared for the coroner.

“Cape Solander is undoubtedly one of Sydney’s best whale watching spots,” the National Parks and Wildlife Service website says.

“June/July is the best time to see humpback whales as they migrate to warmer waters. If you’re lucky you won’t even need to look far – whales have been known to swim as close as 200m from the coast. Named after botanist Daniel Solander, Cape Solander features a lookout with a viewing platform – the perfect vantage point – along with information on whales seen in Sydney waters. Friendly volunteers are there to provide information throughout the season.”

Photography, including selfies, can be a risky pursuit, with about 20 times more people killed in pursuit of selfies than are killed by sharks. Whether the victim in Sydney was attempting to take a selfie or a more conventional photo has not yet been established.

Last month, a man was trying to take a selfie with a wounded bear in Nabarangpur, Odisha, India, when the animal suddenly recovered and mauled him to death. Another youth in a town nearby was trampled to death by a wild elephant while taking a selfie.

India recorded the world’s highest number of selfie deaths last year, accounting for more than 60% of reported fatalities – but similar fatalities occur all over the world.


Danger! No Selfie Sticks on the platform. Sign at a West Japan Railway Company station

In February, a 22-year-old Thai woman was killed by a train while attempting to take a selfie near Samsen train station in Bangkok’s Phaya Thai district. Earlier, a 25-year-old woman in New Zealand was swept away in a dam surge while posing for a selfie, apparently too engrossed to hear the five-minute warning siren for the dam floodgates.

Written by Peter Needham

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