Fishing Charter Gets A Whale Of A Surprise

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

Skipper Oliver Galea

This big one didn’t get away.

In fact, the customers and crew of an Australian charter fishing boat were lucky to get away with their lives when a whale surfaced under their vessel.

Ironically, it wasn’t even a whale-watching trip, although A-One Fishing Charters does offer those.

The boat was hurled out of the water, its skipper gashed his head and two passengers were knocked unconscious in the incident off the coast of Bowen on Queensland’s Whitsunday Coast.

The Brisbane Times delivered an account of the dramatic collision.

Skipper Oliver Galea, two crewmen and five customers were heading home after a day of fishing. Then, with no warning the 8.5-metre aluminum boat soared out of the sea and became airborne.

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 hospital with severe facial injuries.

Pictures on Facebook showed Galea stitched up after taking a deep gash to his forehead. The three other injured men were treated and released.

“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 that happened so fast crew only worked out the series of events 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.

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