Whale injures boat passenger off California coast

February 3, 2006 03:30


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A whale smashed into a 27-foot (8-meter) boat, destroying the cabin, steering and radar, and injuring one passenger, the boat's owner said. The Bayliner was cruising off the Santa Barbara coast to catch the sunset Wednesday when the whale came up from below and belly-flopped onto the boat, owner Jerry Gormley said. The whale emerged again, and its tail toppled the vessel's railings and knocked over a passenger. Bob Thornburgh, 50, was later treated for cracked ribs, his wife said. The whale was estimated to be about 30 feet (9 meters) long. Wayne Perryman, a researcher with the National Marine Fisheries Service, said the boaters probably encountered a gray whale, which rarely show aggressive behavior and are common off California this time of year. It could have been a coincidence that the whale surfaced where the boat was, he said. The whales are also known for approaching boats out of curiosity, he said.

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