Pictured: Nick Myhill, 18″
The stepfather of a teenager who lies in a coma with a broken neck and catastrophic head injuries after being headbutted by a whale during a fishing trip described the moment when he saw a ‘flash of white’ fly out of the water.
Nick Myhill, 18, and Matthew Price, 39, were fishing in Narooma, on the far south coast of New South Wales, at 7:30 a.m. Sunday when the 10-foot baleen whale jumped out of the water and hit the deck of their five-foot vessel. .
The doting stepfather, whose quick call to sea rescue saved the young man’s life, said there was a “huge black shadow” before he saw a white belly rising from the ocean.
“I saw a white flash, his belly, it was two, maybe three times the size of the boat and cut the engine,” he told the Daily Telegram.
“There was a big loud bang, it was like a giant truck knocked us over.”
The huge mammal headbutted Mr. Myhill and sent him to the back of the boat where he hit the back of the head.
Mr Price said it was like a scene from a movie – it was unfolding quickly and he was terrified – but he managed to restart the engine and turn the boat around.
Pictured: Matthew Price, 39, who saved the life of his stepson Nick Myhill after the teen was headbutted by a whale
Pictured: Nick Myhill, 18, who suffered serious head injuries and broke his neck when a whale launched onto his boat
The fishing boat was hit by a baleen whale. There are 14 species of baleen whales, including the blue, bowhead, right, humpback, minke, and gray whale (shown: stock image of a humpback whale)
When the injured couple returned to shore, the stepfather frantically called Mayday and arranged for an ambulance to meet them at the Narooma boat ramp.
They were rushed to Moruya Hospital where the 39-year-old received stitches for cuts to his face and back of his head, but the young man was taken to Canberra Hospital, where he is now fighting for his life.
Mr Price said the pair went fishing together about three times a week and looked forward to catching a haul of kingfish.
The teen’s mother, Kate Myhill, said she was always afraid that his love for the ocean would spell his demise.
Pictured: Nick Myhill, 18, who was seriously injured on Sunday when a humpback whale hit his fishing boat
Pictured: The damaged boat Mr Myhill and Mr Price were in when a humpback whale broke through the deck
Pictured: The boat that Mr. Myhill and Mr. Price were in when the whale jumped out of the water and slammed its body on the deck
“At this stage we don’t know if he will come out of a coma, I look at him on the bed, I wish he hadn’t gone fishing that day,” she said.
Describing the young gardener’s love of fish, the shattered mother said she expected his touch of death to be a hungry shark rather than a whale.
The small boat was badly damaged in the incident.
Along with a series of dents, the cabin is partially destroyed, the rubber falls off the rim of the barrel and whale blubber could dangle from the rim.
In a statement to the Daily Mail Australia, the family said Mr Price’s quick phone call to the rescue team “undoubtedly” saved the young man’s life.
Pictured: Matthew Price, who saved the life of his stepson Nick Myhill on Sunday when a whale landed on their fishing boat
“Matt and Nick are seasoned fishermen, and this was an accident that could have happened to anyone,” they said.
Mr Myhill is expected to be in hospital for ‘some time’ and his medical costs continue to rise.
Family friend Carmen Bartley founded a Go finance me campaign to help cover medical bills.
“At this stage, we don’t know when he will wake up, or how it affected his brain,” Ms Bartley said.
She explained that the family will likely have to pay for adjustments to their home to accommodate Nick’s injuries, or to move to a larger house.
Pictured: The fishing boat Mr Myhill and Mr Price were inside when a whale landed on it on Sunday
“We also need to help Nick’s family survive this ordeal financially, including paying for accommodation in Canberra to be with him, hopefully without having to leave Nick’s side to get back to work too soon,” she wrote. .
Marine Area Commander Chief Inspector Joe McNulty said Maritime NSW has launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident.
“While the investigation is still in its infancy, the incident demonstrates the dangers these mammals can pose to those on the water,” Supt McNulty said Tuesday.
“In recent days, the number of whales moving north has increased dramatically and maritime authorities have received reports of them traveling closer to shore than in previous years.
“Given the proximity to the shoreline, there is potential for spectacular whale watching, but we recommend anyone wanting a closer look to keep a safe distance.”
The couple clambered to the Narooma boat ramp (stock image) and paramedics rushed them to the hospital
It is believed that the whale may also have been injured in the incident.
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service will work with the Organization for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia to monitor the mammal.
Whales start migrating from Antarctica in March and reach the warmer waters of Queensland in June.
Authorities have urged boaters to consider the environment and maintain safe distances on the water during this season’s migration.
Supt McNulty reminded coastal residents not to approach a whale and to stay on a boat at least 100 meters away, and on a jet ski 300 km away.
“For those lucky enough to see from above, unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) should not come closer than 100 meters,” he said.
Other aircraft must maintain a distance of 300 meters, except helicopters and gyrocopters, which must maintain a distance of 500 meters.
WHAT IS A BALE WHALE?
There are 14 species of baleen whales, including the blue, bowhead, right, humpback, minke, and gray whale.
Baleen whales are generally larger than toothed whales, except for the sperm whale which is very large and has teeth.
Many baleen whales migrate annually, traveling long distances between cold water feeding areas and warm water breeding areas.
Baleen whales are grouped into four families and they range in size from the blue whale, which can grow up to 33 meters in length, to the pygmy right whale, which is 6.5 meters in length.
Source: Whale and Dolphin Conservation