Teen Critically Injured After Breaching Whale Lands on Fishing Boat: He 'Had No Warning'
The teen, 18-year-old Nick Myhill, is currently in critical condition and in a coma
An Australian teenager is in critical condition after a breaching whale landed on his boat, according to a local police report.
The teen, identified as 18-year-old Nick Myhill by a GoFundMe page set up on his behalf, was traveling on a boat off the south coast of New South Wales on Sunday when the animal landed on his recreational fishing vessel, police said.
Local law officials received a mayday call shortly after the whale made contact with the boat around 9 a.m., police said. On board were Myhill and a 39-year-old skipper, identified by CNN as his stepfather Matt.
Matt told authorities that Myhill suffered a "serious head injury" after the whale leapt from the water and landed on the boat, and that the vessel was taking on water.
NSW Ambulance paramedics then met the two men at the boat ramp, and Matt was treated at a local hospital for facial cuts and a concussion, while Myhill was airlifted to a local hospital and remains in critical but stable condition, police said.
The teen is currently in a coma, according to the GoFundMe page.
"At this stage, we don't know when he will wake up, or how this has affected his brain," the page said. "Matt's quick thinking and actions saved Nick's life."
The page said Myhill and his stepfather "were doing what they love" and that they've been on fishing trips just like this "hundreds of times before."
In a statement given to CNN, Myhill's family said that he and Matt "had no warning, and no time to react."
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"Both Nick and Matt were injured. Matt was able to quickly get them back to shore, using the VHF (very high frequency marine radio) to make a mayday call on the way, to organize an ambulance to meet them on arrival at the boat ramp," the statement said. "Matt's actions no doubt saved Nick's life."
"The extent of these injuries, and long term implications is not known yet. Matt and Nick are seasoned fishermen, and this was an accident that could have happened to anyone," the statement added.
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Following the incident, Marine Area Commander Superintendent Joe McNulty said that Maritime NSW has launched an investigation into the boating accident.
"While inquiries are in their infancy, the incident demonstrates the dangers these mammals can pose to those on the water," McNulty said. "In recent days, the number of whales migrating north has dramatically increased, and maritime authorities have received reports they're traveling closer to the coast than in previous years."
"Given the close proximity to the shoreline, there is potential for some spectacular whale watching, but we encourage anyone hoping to get a closer look to maintain a safe distance as outlined in the Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017," he added.
Authorities also believe that the whale may have been injured in the incident and are monitoring the situation with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia (ORRCA).
Breaching is when most or all of a whale's body leaves the water, and scientists believe it to be a form of communication, according to Ocean Conservancy.