A surfer out to catch waves off Australia's famed Bondi Beach over the weekend instead got knocked out by a whale's tail.
Bishan Rajapakse, a 38-year-old doctor from New Zealand, was on his surfboard in the waters off the Sydney coast around 10: 30 Sunday morning when a friend beckoned him over to see something in the water.
"When I got to him I saw there was this dark, black shadow and it was just massive," Rajapakse said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. "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 recalled saying, "Hey, how's it going?" to the whale before its tail came out of the water and hit him, the paper reports. The surfer's next memory is of being dragged to the shore on his surfboard and treated by lifeguards.
Rajapakse was taken to a hospital and released after being treated for minor head and shoulder injuries. Witnesses described the whale as being around 32-feet long and said Rajapakse was about a foot away from the whale's tail when it struck.
Lifeguard Anthony Carroll, told Australia's Herald Sun the impact of the whale's tail left a "large-sized ding" in Rajapakses's surfboard.
"This could have been a major incident, a fatality, so for this guy to walk away with minimal injuries … he's probably the luckiest emergency doctor to end up in emergency," Carroll told the Herald Sun.
Despite the scare, Rajapakse says he plans to keep surfing, with a caveat.
"I think if I saw a whale again I'd probably tell other people just to hold back," he said, according to the Sun. "I guess I've got the evidence to say things can go wrong."
- Nature & Environment