An Australian teenager is recovering after being hit by a whale that surfaced next to his family’s boat and knocked him out cold with its tail.
Drew Hall, 13, and his family were whale watching Sunday off the Australian coast when a humpback whale suddenly emerged from the water and whacked the teenager with its tail, sending him flying.
The Hall family, on a fishing trip just north of Brooms Head in New South Wales, had been watching a group of whales that happened to be blowing air through their blowholes next to the family's 16-foot boat.
"It all happened within seconds," his mother Karen told the local Daily Examiner newspaper.
"I was sitting backwards in the boat looking at Drew and the tail just whacked him and sent him flying. I thought Drew was dead. I looked at him and thought he was gone — he was blue," she said.
The teenager, who remained unconscious for 30 or 40 minutes, was rushed back to shore and to hospital where he was treated for a broken collarbone and an egg-sized lump on his head.
He said he did not remember hearing or seeing anything in the moments before the whale surfaced and swiped the boat with its tail.
"I'm all right, I'm a bit sore, but I'm all right,” Drew Hall told the Sydney Morning Herald.
It is whale watching season in Australia, when humpback and southern right whales migrate along the country’s east coast on their away from Antarctica to the more temperate climes of north Queensland.
Last week one person was injured when a volunteer marine rescue boat collided with a whale off the Brisbane coast, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports. The boat was extensively damaged in the collision.
Adult humpback whales can weight up to 40 tons and grow to 60 feet — about the size of a bus.
Last year, a South African couple were stunned when a 40-ton southern right whale lept from the water and crashed down on their yacht, a moment captured in dramatic photos. The incident took place near Hermanus, a popular whale-watching town about 80 miles east of Cape Town.