Tags: right | whale | surfer | smackdown

Right Whale, Surfer Smackdown Sends New Zealander 'Flying'

Tuesday, 09 Jul 2013 09:29 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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A huge southern right whale stunned beachgoers when it knocked a 38-year-old New Zealand doctor unconscious with a flick of its tail.

The right whale, surfer smackdown happened on Sunday morning off Bondi Beach in Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The whale smashed Bishan Rajapakse's surfboard when it smacked him with its tail in waters off the southern portion of the beach, the newspaper reported. Rajapakse was in satisfactory condition at St. Vincent's Hospital after the incident.

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The southern right whale is indigenous to the southern hemisphere and is often identified by its large head, which is about a third of its body length. The whale has white-colored, rough skin, according to BBC Nature. 

Witnesses described the whale as being at least 40 feet long and sent Rajapakse "flying like Skittles."

"He was near drowning," Gordian Fulde, director of the emergency department at St Vincent's, told the Morning Herald.

Rajapakse said a friend, who was in the water with him, spotted the whale and signaled him over to see it.

"When I got to him I saw there was this dark, black shadow and it was just massive," Rajapakse said. "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."

Rajapakse told the Morning Herald that he believed the whale was less than a meter away from him when it flicked its tail. He said he only suffered a headache, and had no injuries.

Bondi Beach Rescue lifeguard Anthony Carroll said a local surfer quickly helped Rajapakse after the incident.

"Tony Spanos held him up while he was unconscious for 15 seconds face down," Carroll said. "His board had been smashed in pretty badly. It looked like he was thrown about three meters above the water. The tail of a whale is the strongest muscle on any animal in the world. It's an extreme no-no to go in the vicinity of a whale."

The whale was "cruising around for 15 minutes. He was quite inquisitive," Spanos said. "He was just watching us. The whale looked mid age, with lots of barnacles on its back."

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