Confused whale nearly sinks whale-watching boat

The goal of a whale watching trip is self-explanatory: you’re hoping to get up close and personal with some whales. But that isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes whale watchers get more than they bargained for – like when a confused whale leaps out of the water and falls directly onto your boat. That’s exactly what happened to Paloma Werner on a recent whale watching trip near Cape Town, South Africa.

Ms. Werner and her partner Ralph Mothes were in the midst of a pleasant whale watching cruise, floating alongside a nearby Right Whale for nearly an hour. Suddenly the whale surfaced dangerously close to their boat, its huge bulk breaching the surface, and leapt directly onto their small yacht, cracking the ship’s mast before sliding back into the water. Though the whale caused over $10,000 in damages to the ship, it remained seaworthy, and the crippled whale watching vessel used its small engine to taxi back to shore. Ms. Werner and Mr. Mothes were startled but unharmed by the incident.

Is it possible the normally gentle whale had malicious intent? It sounds like it was simply having a bad day. As Paloma speculated in interview following the incident, it’s possible the beast simply made a navigation error. Whatever the reason, Ms. Werner refuses to blame her watery assailant for her misfortune. As she told her interviewers, “I still like whales.”

[Photo credit: Shayan (USA)/Flickr]