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National News

Whale lands on fishing boat amid increased sightings near Massachusetts

todayJuly 26, 2022

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(PLYMOUTH, Mass.) — A whale hit the front end of a local fishing boat off the coast of Plymouth, Massachusetts, as captured on video by a nearby witness.

The humpback whale landed on the 19-foot boat’s bow around 10 a.m. on Sunday, officials said, leaving it bouncing in the water as the whale submerged once again.

There were only minor damages to the boat, and no injuries to those on board, officials said.

A Plymouth Harbormaster patrol boat was already in the area due to increased whale sightings in recent days, officials said.

The boat was able to return to land after the encounter.

According to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation, a non-profit group dedicated to the conservation of whales, most of the whales sighted have been humpback whales, which can measure up to 55 feet and weigh 40 tons.

Experts said this was not an attack, but rather a human interference to the whale’s natural feeding techniques.

Laura Howes, director of Marine Education and Conservation at Boston Harbor City Cruises, told ABC News that the whale was “lunge feeding,” which is a movement where the whale will move suddenly and quickly to prey upon a school of fish near the surface.

Howes said the whales will follow their prey, sometimes leading them close to the shore and towards popular boating areas.

That being said, boaters need to be conscious of whales when in the area, Howes said.

“The most important thing a boater can do is keep a distance. You want to stay at least 100 feet away,” Howes said.

See a Spout is a resource to better understand whale behaviors and staying safe on the water, the Plymouth Harbormaster said.

Howes said it’s important for boaters to stay vigilant for cues that a whale is hunting nearby. This includes when a whale is tailing the surface, which is a cue to get away from the whale’s path.

“[Boaters] can easily move away from that direction, but a whale doesn’t always quite know what’s going on at the surface,” Howes said.

Howes said boaters should know that while the whales are not being aggressive towards them, their size means that such an encounter can leave boaters seriously injured.

“The passengers on the vessel [on Sunday] were very lucky,” Howes said.

The Massachusetts Environmental Police is investigating the incident.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Written by: ABC News

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