In what was a dangerous encounter that could have been far worse, a breaching whale landed on the bow of a fishing boat, forcing the stern out of the water and no doubt putting a scare into the passengers.
The incident occurred off Plymouth, Massachusetts, around 10 a.m. Sunday in the White Horse Beach area where humpback whales have been spotted feeding recently, according to WCVB and a press release from Plymouth Harbormaster Chad Hunter.
A Harbormaster boat assigned to the area to watch for any potential violations of the Marine Mammal Act responded to check on the vessel occupants. The boat operator reported that nobody was injured and the 19-foot vessel sustained no major damage that effected its seaworthiness.
A photo provided by the Harbormaster shows the extent of the vessel’s damage. What injuries the whale might have sustained is unclear.
Though Hunter said the whale was breaching, it could have been lunge feeding. Either way, the encounter shows that these interactions can be dangerous for boaters and whales, and boaters need to heed federal law that require them to remain 100 yards away from whales.
The Plymouth Harbormaster retweeted a video that shows a feeding whale landing on a boat, but it was unclear if it was the same incident. If not, it does appear to be quite similar.
Photos courtesy of WCVB and the Plymouth Harbormaster.