Rescue vessel hits whale off Australia's east coast

A Volunteer Marine Rescue vessel was on its way to assist a broken
down boat late Sunday night when she hit a whale 30 km of the coast of Brisbane,
the Herald Sun reports.

The collision caused up to £45,000 of damage to the
catamaran, which saw a 2.5m section of the bow torn away by the impact. Two
crew members onboard the 32ft vessel were injured.

“As [the boat] came off a wave, the whale came up underneath
at the same time and impacted the bow of the boat,” explained Tony Hawkins,
Volunteer Marine Rescue president. “It is mighty unusual… but they do call the
whale ‘the floating reef’.”

It’s believed the boat hit a juvenile humpback whale. It’s
not fully understood how injured the whale is, but Paul Hodda from the
Australian Whale Conservation Society believes the damage will be extensive.

“Because the whales come up to breathe at the surface and
what’s exposed is their head, their blowhole and their spine, they’re going to
have some sort of an injury,” he said. “It also depends if they just get
impacted by the vessel and whether the propeller goes across it.”

Wally Franklin, a researcher from the Oceania Project and
Southern Cross University, said it’s unusual for whales to pop up in front of a
vessel unexpectedly. “During the migration, the humpbacks surface regularly -
every four or five minutes,” he explained. “If one is maintaining the kind of
watch that one should be maintaining on a vessel underway at sea, there’s a
good likelihood you will see them.”