A 32-foot whale knocked a surfer unconscious at the famous Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia when flicking at a curious crowd of board riders with its tail.
The Fairfax Media wrote that curious board riders had clustered around the whale, an unusual sight so close to shore in Australia, early Sunday when the animal flicked its tail, reportedly sending several of them flying.
The Australian Associated Press quoted Bondi lifeguard Adrian Kovacic as saying that lifesavers had spotted the whale and been aware of the potential for injury.
"The whale came heaps close to shore and then the surfers were heaps close to it. We sent our lifeguard to make a big radius around the whale to get everyone away, and while he was doing that one guy got too close and got hit by the tail."
Bishan Rajapakse, a 38-year-old doctor from Bondi, was knocked unconscious for around 10 seconds after being struck by the whale, thought to be a southern right.
Humbacks and southern right whales migrate from southern regions to the north to warmer waters during the Australian winter, with the animals returning between September and November.
Other surfers helped him back to the beach, where he was treated by surf lifesavers and paramedics, AAP wrote.
He was taken to St Vincent's Hospital and is in a satisfactory condition, with Gordian Fulde, director of the emergency department, saying:
"It was a near drowning. But he has no broken bones. He will probably go home tomorrow."
The Sydney Morning Herald later quoted Rajapakse as saying that the last thing he remembered was saying, "Hey, how's it going?" to the whale when it was less than three feet from him.
The Sri-Lankan born New Zealander said he and a friend first saw the whale as a "dark, black shadow and it was just massive.
“The whale was moving in like slow motion. It was beautiful and it breached and we could see the barnacles and it was slowly going up and down and turning and it actually made a noise. It was amazing."
That's when he got a little too familiar with one of nature's biggest mammals:
"I remember trying to talk to it . . . before I realized I was off my board and on my front... whales is not what it's cracked up to be. They look nice and soft but I can't remember contacting it. Maybe it contacted me."