Volunteer boat hits whale off Stradbroke Island
Concerns are growing for a whale involved in a collision with a Volunteer Marine Rescue boat off North Stradbroke Island last night.
The collision tore apart one of the catamaran's hulls, injuring two crew members.
I’ve been involved in marine rescue for nearly 30 odd years and I’ve never seen a bow disappear
Tony Hawkins, Volunteer Marine Rescue vice president, said the 10-metre catamaran was en route to help another vessel off Stradbroke Island’s Point Lookout when it collided with the whale about two nautical miles off shore shortly after 6pm.
One hull of this catamaran was torn apart during a collision with a whale. Photo: Tony Hawkins
‘‘As [the boat] came off a wave the whale came up underneath at the same time and impacted the bow of the boat,’’ Mr Hawkins said.
‘‘The bow of the boat is gone. There is nothing there.
‘‘It is mighty unusual ... but they do call the whale 'the floating reef’.’’
Wildlife officers of the Department of Environment and Resource Management have been searching by boat for any sign of the whale today, but to no avail.
Trevor Long, director of marine sciences at Sea World on the Gold Coast, said all boat operators had been asked to be on the lookout for an injured whale, but there have been no sightings.
Two of the five people on board the volunteer vessel were injured in last night's crash, with one suffering a dislocated shoulder and the other minor facial injuries. They were taken to Redland Hospital for treatment.
Mr Hawkins said he was amazed at the extent of the damage to the boat, which he estimated would cost $70,000 to repair.
‘‘I’ve been involved in marine rescue for nearly 30 odd years and I’ve never seen a bow disappear,’’ he said.
The Manly Coast Guard was called in to tow the damaged catamaran back to its base at Raby Bay and transfer its injured crew members to another marine rescue vessel.
The frontline rescue vessel, which is used to ferry ambulance patients from Stradbroke Island to the mainland, is expected to be out of action for up to 14 weeks.
The boat underwent a $160,000 refit in November and was called upon during January’s floods to help vessels stranded in the Brisbane River.
Although the extent of the whale’s injuries is not known, Mr Hawkins said he feared the worst.
‘‘I don’t think [the whale] was seen ... but unfortunately I believe regrettably there was significant damage done to the whale,’’ he said.
Each year up to 10,000 whales pass Stradbroke Island between June and the end of October as part of their annual migration north to warmer waters.
Paul Hodda, from the Australian Whale Conservation Society, said it was likely the whale was injured.
"It depends upon the angle of the impact and the speed the vessel is travelling," he told 612 ABC radio.
"Because the whales come up to breathe at the surface and what's exposed is their head, their blowhole and their spine, they're going to have some sort of an injury.
"It also depends if they just get impacted by the vessel and whether the propeller goes across it."