Sydney, Australia: A surfer was injured yesterday when he was thrown off his board by a Southern Right Whale, a type of humpback, off the coast of Bondi Icebergs Beach. Lifeguards said that the whale decided to swim right up to the area where several surfers were catching some waves. Other than the surfer no one else was injured by the whale.
Bishan Rajapakse, a 38-year-old doctor from Bondi, was taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney Sunday morning. Spokesmen for the hospital said that while the man nearly drowned from the incident, he was in good shape at this time and would probably be released in the morning. Rajapakse had no broken bones or other serious injuries.
Paul Martin, a lifeguard at Bondi Icebergs, was quoted saying that the whale swam right up to within 100 meters of the rocks off the coast of Bondi Beach. Martin further said that the whale ran into the group of surfers and decided to play football with one of them.
Anthony Carroll, a lifeguard with the Bondi Rescue squad said that it is extremely dangerous to get close to a southern right whale, the tail fo one of these whales is the strongest muscle of any animal in the known world. The whale itself can weigh more than 80 tons.
Tony Spanos, a fellow surfer at the site said “[The Whale] cruising around for 15 minutes. He was quite inquisitive. He was just watching us. The whale looked mid age, with lots of barnacles on its back. It was about 10 metres long. [Rajapakse] got really heavily smashed and went straight under. I dived down and grabbed him. There was a guy out there on a big mal. I called him over, we lifted him on and we started paddling back to shore.”
There are very few instances yearly when a bather at any beach has to fear an attack by a whale. The most common injury to humas from whales is when people are near a beach and a killer whale strikes for food on the beach and they get in the way.