Five individuals lost their lives on Saturday, September 10th, after their boat flipped in a possible whale collision. Six others who were aboard the small charter boat off the coast of Kaikōura, New Zealand, were rescued. Police drivers reportedly recovered all five bodies on the 10th. The six survivors were reportedly all in stable conditions, and only one was transferred to a hospital in Christchurch as a precaution.
Kaikōura is a popular whale watching area, mainly because the seafloor drops off fairly close to the shore. Though several companies offer boat tours and helicopter rides for whale watching, New Zealand news organization Stuff reports that the boat belonged to a local fishing charter boat company and was, at the time of the incident, hosting a bird enthusiast group.
According to Stuff, it’s clear that the 8.5 meter (~29 feet) boat was capsized as a result of a collision, but police aren’t 100% certain as to what exactly caused the collision. This incident was, of course, a freak accident, and our thoughts and support goes out to those involved in the incident and their families.
While incidents like this are rare, whale strikes aren’t incredible uncommon across the world, as reported by the International Whaling Commission. While these strikes don’t tend to harm humans, they can have devastating effects on the whales, especially when they occur with larger vessels.
“For now, the most effective way to reduce collision risk is to keep whales and ships apart, and where this is not possible, for vessels to slow down and keep a look out. Mitigation measures need to be approached in a collaborative way, involving governments, the various industries and leisure sectors that use marine transport and the bodies that represent them.” – International Whaling Commission
Image Credit: The Straits Times on YouTube