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Teenager in critical condition after violating whale land on fishing boat


Nick Myhill, 18, sustained serious head and neck injuries when the pierced whale fell on the boat off the south coast of New South Wales (NSW) over the weekend.

Marine Rescue NSW received a distress call on Sunday, following the incident off Narooma, about 200 miles south of Sydney.

According to a Facebook post from Marine Area Command – NSW Police Force, “the 39-year-old skipper said his 18-year-old passenger suffered a serious head injury.” The older man, Myhill’s stepfather, told rescuers he was trying to get back to the boat launch despite the ship taking on water.

Paramedics met the ship and treated the two men before transferring them to hospital, the statement said. Myhill was then flown to the capital, Canberra, where he remains in critical but stable condition. Her stepfather, named only Matt, was treated at a local hospital for facial lacerations and a concussion.

The couple, who live in Narooma, were on an early morning fishing trip, “doing what they love,” according to a fundraising page created by family friend Carmen Bartley.

In a statement sent to CNN, the family said: “They had no warning and had no time to react. Nick and Matt were injured. Matt was able to quickly bring them down, using the VHF (Very High Frequency Marine Radio) to make a distress call on the way, to arrange an ambulance to greet them when they arrived at the boat launch. Matt’s actions were undoubtedly life saving of Nick. “

Myhill remains in a coma with serious head and neck injuries, the family said.

“The extent of these injuries and the long-term implications are not yet known. Matt and Nick are seasoned fishermen, and it was an accident that could have happened to anyone,” the statement said.

The family thanked the medical professionals involved in the couple’s care and added, “Nick is a strong young man, and he fights hard.”

Teenager in critical condition after violating whale land on fishing boat

Authorities are now urging captains to keep their distance from whales during the migration season.

Marine Area Commander Superintendent Joe McNulty said in the Facebook post: “The incident demonstrates the dangers these mammals can pose to those on the water.

“In recent days, the number of whales migrating north has increased dramatically and maritime authorities have received reports that they are traveling closer to the coast than in previous years.

“Given the proximity to the shore, there is potential for spectacular whale watching, but we encourage anyone hoping to take a closer look to maintain a safe distance, as outlined in the 2017 Biodiversity Conservation Regulation. . “

These laws prohibit anyone approaching a whale on board a ship from approaching within 100 meters (328 feet).

Teenager in critical condition after violating whale land on fishing boat

The whale may have been injured in the incident, according to the police statement, and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is working with the Organization for the Rescue and Search of Cetaceans in Australia (ORRCA) to monitor it. .

The whale species has not been identified in police or family statements, but Lucy Babey, deputy director and head of science and conservation at ORCA, a UK-based charity protecting the whales and dolphins told CNN that about 40,000 humpback whales frequent Australian waters at this location. time of year when they migrate to warmer waters for the winter.

“Humpback whales are very acrobatic and are known for their breaches, which is why they are one of the best species for whale watching,” she said.

Teenager in critical condition after violating whale land on fishing boat

When fully grown, they are around 55 feet long and can weigh 79,000 pounds in the case of males and slightly less for females, depending on whether or not they are pregnant. They can travel up to 25 miles an hour, but are likely to move at a slower pace during migration, Babey said.

The breach can be a form of communication, she explained, the loud sound of their tails hitting the water alerting others to danger or food in the area. However, they can also break when threatened.

“It can be their way of saying ‘stay away, I am here’ or it can be scared and get out of the way. They also rape more frequently if they are traveling with young people.

“It could also have been unlucky – the whale was breaching and didn’t know there was a ship there.”

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