A HUMPBACK whale and her calf were left injured after a collision with a ferry in Sydney Harbour yesterday. A witness said the animals suddenly popped up in front of the boat.
The Collaroy, which was operating the 8.40am service from Circular Quay to Manly, hit an unknown object damaging its propeller blade.
Aerial footage later identified a female humpback whale with a wound near its dorsal fin, while its calf had an 80-centimetre gash. Richard Ford, of Whale Watching Sydney, said one of his boat captains saw the ferry collide with one of the whales.
''Then we saw the whale spend a little bit of time on the surface and then start swimming again.
''We all knew the whales were around there and an alert had come out earlier on the radio, so we knew the whales were in the vicinity and everyone was keeping a watch out.
''[The captain] said it just popped up in front of the ferry. There was nothing the ferry could do to avoid it.''
The Collaroy was in the harbour's western channel when the incident occurred off Clifton Gardens.
Geoff Ross, of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, said the whales appeared to be fine.
''We've been monitoring the calf all morning … and it's now swimming north. They do have amazing powers of recuperation, so in all likelihood the animals will recover.
''The [calf] appears to be swimming well and swimming close to mum's side so with a bit more love and some breastfeeding, I think it will be fine.''
The NSW Department of Heritage and Environment said on its Twitter feed the whale and her calf had left Sydney Harbour.
Mr Ross said the adult humpback could grow to 14 metres and weigh up to 40 tonnes.
He estimated the calf to be three metres long and weighing up to three tonnes.
A statement from Harbour City Ferries said the master of the ferry and the deckhand did not see what the boat hit and no passengers reported anything to the crew.
It said the ferry had been withdrawn from service and taken to Balmain for assessment.
- with AAP