Whale pwns boat

July 21, 2010 • 3:10 pm

ABC news reports that a southern right whale (Eubalaena australis) landed on and crushed a boat near Robben Island, South Africa (you’ll remember the island as the place where Nelson Mandela was jailed for nearly two decades).  Here are a couple of photos, and there are more at the site.  The whale apparently hit the boat by accident while breaching, and swam off seemingly unharmed—but missing a few chunks of blubber.

The southern right whale is a baleen whale, and we’ll have a nice story tomorrow on their evolution.

35 thoughts on “Whale pwns boat

    1. Didn’t any of you guys ever see “The Saint” tv series with Roger Moore or the movie re-make with Val Kilmer a couple years ago? That’s totally the glyph from the show. Don’t know what it’s doing on a sailboat off the coast of S. Africa though.

      Could have been worse, the sailboat could have been hit by that giant freighter in the background of Fig. 1b, there.

  1. Wow. I never saw how tiny in comparison to their relatives right whales could be.

    Wait, was this a juvenile southern right whale, or a fully-grown adult?

  2. “The southern right whale is a baleen whale, and we’ll have a nice story tomorrow on their evolution.”

    Yes, please. I’ve seen southern right whales off the Western Cape many times. They are beautiful animals, who are apparently quite curious about humans.

    1. They frequent the southern coast of Australia as well to calve. Poor buggers, they were nearly wiped out because they, Goldilocks like, just the right whale to hunt. Slow swimming, and floated on the surface after being harpooned.

  3. The chances of capturing that shot seem vanishing. And what category would that fall under on an insurance policy?

    1. Act of Cod? [I know, it’s a whale not a fish, but it’s the best I can do at short notice 🙂 ]

    2. “The chances of capturing that shot seem vanishing.”

      Possibly not if the photographer was whale watching.

  4. Do you really think it hit the boat by accident? I would think a whale is pretty aware of it’s surroundings and wouldn’t hit something the size of a boat by accident…

    1. I wouldn’t have thought it was in the whale’s interest to hit it on purpose, it must have hurt even a whale to do that much damage!

  5. Obviously, this is an atheist whale, who upon seeing the halo on the boats sail, couldn’t resist a chance to attack an innocent God-fearing Christian, typical behavior for atheists.
    Christianity is under attack everywhere today, and the author of this post joins in by his constant referral to a “right” whale. Atheists see nothing “wrong” with vandalism and blasphemy when they are directed against Christians.

  6. I think the photo is a fake – photoshopped. Has the story been verified? CNN and other links don’t work for me.

    The lighting and shadows look different on the whale compared to the boat. Also, the water on the bottom looks different than the water above the whale and behind the boat.

    Hmmmmm…. a real fish tale, I think…

      1. It is my experience that when you post an amazing photo, no matter how well documented, there’s always at least one person who asserts that it’s Photoshopped.

        1. Yes, living very close to where it happened, it is not the first instance where breaching whales have caused damage and consternation (and new laws to keep a distance between whales and your boat – 300 metres at present). But we Africans are a pretty lawless bunch, and 1st world countries would question the authenticity of the photo. I mean, not following the letter of the law; how is that possible?

          1. I have had a couple of “close calls” with these whales. I used to do a lot of spearfishing of the South Western coast of South Africa. These whales would appear out of nowhere and all of a sudden, they would be right next to your boat. It can give you quite a scare if all of a sudden, there is a huge piece of meat bigger than the little boat you’re on, that surfaces right next to you, and blows out air from its blow hole.

            They are very inquisitive creatures. They are very gentle too. Never did they bump our boat once. I have been swimming in the water many times when one would just come up to me and have a good look at me, and once even gently push me through the water. You know you just have to stay calm. They check you out, then they go about their own business.

            I believe this incident was just an accident. These big and gentle creatures are not known for any form of aggression. Breaching is part of a mating ritual, so I am sure everyone can understand that the whale had something else on his mind.

            I can see the coast guard issuing a warning to boats: “Danger! Horny whales in these waters.”

            Ha-ha, I hope that whale got lucky after all the drama.

            1. Looking at the photo again I still suspect that it was faked.

              Consider basic physics – how heavy is that whale and what would be the impact on the side of the boat? Yet the side shows no damage at all and only the mast is broken off/ damaged.

              There are other clues – the skipper isn’t even looking over at the whale! What – this is a common occurance to him? Also, there are 2 different water perspectives.

              I suspect that it is just a case of a broken mast, which happens often, and the picture was doctored after.

              I’ve seen altered videos of whales landing of kayakers (much more difficult to fake) so doctoring this photo would not be hard.

        2. That should be an Internet law, just like Poe’s Law and Godwin’s Law.


          Coyne’s Law: if an amazing photograph is posted on the internet, no matter how well documented it is, someone will inevitably claim that it has been altered.

  7. In fact this picture highlights a problem for cetaceans of noise pollution in the oceans, particularly in areas where shipping is most dense that are also feeding grounds. Biology Letters had an article on 7th July – “Individual right whales call louder in increased environmental noise”
    by Susan E. Parks et al doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2010.0451


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