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Whitsundays whale terror: Owner tells of drama at sea

Oliver Galea, 44, suffered a major laceration to his head
Oliver Galea, 44, suffered a major laceration to his head

THE owner of a fishing charter vessel which had a terrifying encounter with a humpback says there was no notice of any whale in the area at the time of the drama.

A-One Fishing Charter's 8.5m boat was heading back to Abell Point Marina at Airlie Beach on the weekend when it hit a whale about 8km off Gloucester Island.

Four men were taken to hospital, including owner Oliver Galea, 44, who suffered a major laceration to his head which exposed his skull.

Zambian tourist Mark Young, 48, was in a stable at the Proserpine Hospital, while Greg Wilson, 31, was discharged.

Another 70-year-old man was taken to hospital but was not admitted.

Mr Galea, who received eight stitches to his head wound, said the terrifying collision caught everyone by surprise.

"We were only going about 45km/h, there were no blow holes and we didn't see any whales," he said.

"All of a sudden its (whale) thrown the boat out of the water and it's come crashing down."

Crew members on board the A1 Fishing Charter boat which collided with a whale are on the road to recovery.
Crew members on board the A1 Fishing Charter boat which collided with a whale are on the road to recovery. Contributed

 

Mr Galea said no one knew what had happened until a passenger saw a whale moving away from the boat.

"Within a split second everyone was just down on the ground, we didn't know what had happened," he said.

"I've hit my head on the front rail.

"Mark, the man next to me, was unconscious.

"It all happened so fast, it was a freak accident.

"I'm thinking it was about three times the size (of the boat)."

Oliver Galea has been overwhelmed by the support he's received since his drama on the weekend.
Oliver Galea has been overwhelmed by the support he's received since his drama on the weekend.

 

RACQ CQ Rescue was en route to a beacon search off Bowen when the helicopter was diverted to A-One's EPIRB activation.

The helicopter's crew determined the situation was too dangerous to conduct a winch of those injured and decided to follow the vessel back to Abell Point.

A whale impact left a dent on a A1 fishing charter vessel.
A whale impact left a dent on a A1 fishing charter vessel. Contributed

Mr Galea said the collision left a round dent on his boat and knocked out one of his engines.

"On the GPS coordinates there's a gap when it (boat) left the water," he said.

"Every charter we see whales.

"Some days you're just sitting there and they come up.

"At first we all sort of panicked (but) we'll be back out on the water by the end of the week.

"We're all catching up for dinner tonight in Airlie to talk about what happened.

"We were lucky we didn't capsize or get thrown over.

"Its' just so lucky that the boat wasn't fibreglass."

News Corp Australia

Topics:  editors picks whale whitsundays

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