Dramatic video shows the moment a massive humpback whale crashed into a fishing boat off the coast of Cape Cod.
Cell phone video obtained by Boston ABC affiliate WCVB showed up-close footage of the incident, which originally occurred on Sunday. The video shows the whale breaching straight up out of the water, then slamming into the small boat. Other videos taken by witnesses show the whale slamming headfirst into the bow of the boat, pushing it down while throwing the stern out of the water.
New video shows what it was like for the people on board a boat off the coast of Plymouth as a whale breached and crashed on to it. https://t.co/7IkoEYKqoI pic.twitter.com/jYWwgDwXzt
— WCVB-TV Boston (@WCVB) July 28, 2022
One of the fishers on the boat recounted the incident online. “While fishing for Striped Bass in Cape Cod Bay … enjoying an awesome time fishing we saw and heard the screams of excitement from boaters nearby seeing a whale or whales surfacing in the area, all [were] hundreds of yards away from us all morning,” fisher Ted Gardziel shared in a post on the website ViralHog.
Gardziel said that they had seen a whale a few minutes earlier, but it was over 300 yards away. He said he was holding his phone and recording at the time when the whale collided with the boat.
“We’re all … very lucky, no injuries, minor damage to the boat and we powered back to the marina on our own,” Gardziel added. “We all felt bad for the whale, wrong place at the wrong time for all of us. We all got bumped around but went on to live another day. Amazing that an animal that large was in such shallow water (30′) so close to shore breech feeding on Menhaden.”
Witnesses also posted photos and videos of the incident to Facebook. One video posted by a witness shows the whale in mid-breach, smashing head first into the boat, sending the stern of the boat high into the air, before sliding off the bow and back into the water, while the boat tosses in the wake of the crash. Photos shared by the witness showed the bow railing badly damaged and one of the boaters inspecting the boat and himself for injuries.
The witness, Justin Enggasser, told the Boston Globe that he and his son were fishing for striped bass, and were chasing schools of Menhaden, a baitfish which attracts both striped bass and humpback whales. “We saw the bait fish start jumping in front of the boat,” he said. “My son had been sort of taking video of it while I was fishing. [He] just happened to be able to get it at the right time.”
Enggasser said there was no way to predict that the whale would hit the boat. “The whale, I think previously, breached fairly distant from that boat. I don’t think there was any way that guy could have known that whale was coming up right there.” The whale rolled off the boat, but fortunately surfaced again shortly afterward, Enggasser added.
The Massachusetts Environmental Police urged boaters to use caution in the wake of the incident, noting that a group of three juvenile whales had been feeding in the area recently.
“These young whales are engaged in physically active feeding behavior that is very unpredictable, while feeding in a shallow area on menhaden (or ‘pogies’), a rich and highly abundant schooling forage fish that also attracts striped bass,” police said. “A collision with a vessel or personal watercraft can cause damage to the vessel, physical injury to the whale, and potential serious injury or death to humans involved. The shallow water and presence of encroaching vessels, along with the young age of the animals, may increase the unpredictability of their behavior.”