Fundraiser for young man injured in whale breach

Fishing Incident WhaleA GoFundMe page has been set up to support the 18-year-old Narooma local who sustained serious injuries after an incident with a whale at the weekend. 

Just after 9am on Sunday (6 June 2021), Marine Rescue NSW received a MAYDAY call after a breaching whale landed on top of a recreational vessel off the coast of Narooma.

A 39-year-old male skipper of the 4.9 metre runabout advised Marine Rescue that his 18-year-old male passenger had sustained a serious head injury after a whale breached and landed on their boat.

The pair managed to navigate back to Apex Park boat ramp, were treated by paramedics and rushed to hospital.

The younger man was airlifted from Moruya Hospital to Canberra Hospital, where he remains in a critical but stable condition, while the older man was treated at Moruya Hospital for facial lacerations and concussion.

The fundraising page 'Keep Nick Afloat' has been set up by friend Carmen Bartley who says the 18-year-old's family has been doing it tough since the accident.

"Nick (who is about to turn 19) and Matt were doing what they love, what they have done hundreds of times before, early morning fishing off the coast of their home town Narooma,"

"Until a freak accident changed the course of their lives forever."

"A whale surfaced from under the water, and landed on their boat.

"They had no warning  and no idea the whale was nearby.

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Both men suffered injuries, however Nick's were severe.

"At this stage, we don't know when he will wake up, or how this has affected his brain,"

"Matt's quick thinking and actions saved Nick's life. But now Nick's family need help.

Authorities are urging skippers to be aware of surroundings and maintain safe distances while on the water during this season’s whale migration along the NSW coast.

The reminder follows a significant increase in the number of whales migrating north through NSW waters and this serious incident involving a recreational vessel off Narooma at the weekend.

Marine Area Commander, Superintendent Joe McNulty, said Maritime NSW has launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

"While inquiries are in their infancy, the incident demonstrates the dangers these mammals can pose to those on the water," Supt McNulty said.

"In recent days, the number of whales migrating north has dramatically increased, and maritime authorities have received reports they’re travelling 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."

More information about whale watching and safety tips from NPWS are available online here