Whale breaches off Massachusetts coast, lands on boat

No casualties were reported in the incident off the coast of Plymouth, Massachusetts, the harbor master said.

PLYMOUTH, Mass. – Talk about a really wild story. A humpback whale was caught on camera Sunday off the coast of Plymouth, Massachusetts as it breached the water and landed on a boat.

Plymouth Harbor Master Chad Hunter told NBC10 Boston the close encounter occurred around 10 a.m. off the shore of White Horse Beach. The 19-foot vessel suffered minor damage to the bow but shockingly was still seaworthy. The boat was able to return to the boat ramp under its own power and fortunately the boatman reported no injuries.

“The boat was in the right place at the wrong time. It could have turned out a lot worse for everyone involved,” Hunter said. “Kids like to lean over the side of the boat to watch the fish, so it’s very fortunate that nobody got hurt here. An incident like this is quite rare but very dangerous for boaters.”

An incredible image that captured the moment just before impact.

Those familiar with the area, some of whom have been fishing there for decades, told NBC10 Boston they’ve never seen anything like it before.

“All of a sudden the full breech slams ten feet out of the water onto his guy’s boat like his bow was going to basically go in the water, engine off, the whole thing pops off, the whale rolls over the side perfectly fine but his boat was.” Broke up,” Ryder Parkhurst said. “It was crazy, the guy was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, that’s all. Pops up, bang… right on the bow of the guy’s boat.”

“I just saw the boat fly crazy, it was crazy,” Parkhurst added. “It was crazy. I couldn’t believe that thing was still floating.”

Harbormaster crews had actually been patrolling the area since 5am to ensure everyone’s safety after a boat was struck by a whale on Friday.

The harbor master noted that there were many boats in the area for recreational fishing due to the abundance of baitfish on Sunday, adding that this also attracts whales to the area to feed.

“They’ve been out there non-stop for the past three days, so there’s a lot of whales, but they’re also attracting a lot of boaters, which is obviously a problem after today,” said longtime boater Chris Grant. “They’re beautiful creatures but you know you gotta keep your distance, they’re still animals you know?”

Crowds gathered at the site Sunday night hoping to catch a glimpse.

“I love whales,” said 9-year-old Daniel Morse. “The three things I love are music, video games and whales.”

The harbor master is using this incident as a warning, urging boaters to stay at least 100 meters away from whales whenever possible.

The Environmental Police have been contacted and will investigate, including to determine if there has been any violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The harbor master said no such violations had been identified at the time of the incident.

More NEWS CENTER Maine stories


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Alley Einstein

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