Sydney: Authorities in the east coast of Australia said on Saturday one man was dead and another injured after a whale collided with their fishing boat.
New South Wales (NSW) state police said the incident took place at around 6 a.m. local time (2000 GMT on Friday) in the waters off La Perouse, 14 kilometers (9 miles) southeast of Sydney.
People aboard another vessel spotted a 4.8-meter (15.7 feet) unoccupied boat circling in the waters and notified the police, who pulled two men: a 61-year-old unconscious passenger and a 53-year-old skipper.
Authorities said attempts to revive the first man failed and declared him dead on scene, while the skipper was taken to a hospital and was in a stable condition.
A 'tragic accident'
Water Police Acting Superintendent Siobhan Munro said the skipper had been trying to save his companion, holding him "as close as he could."
She described the collision as a "tragic accident," saying that the whale possibly breached near or even onto the boat.
New South Wales Police Minister Yasmin Catley later confirmed a whale was involved in the incident. State Emergency Services Minister Jihad Dib spoke of "an absolute freak accident."
Whales in New South Wales
Authorities did not name the exact type of whale involved in the incident, but the country's extensive coastline hosts some 30 species of whales.
The New South Wales coastline sees humpback and southern right whales, which head north to warmer breeding grounds during the winter and return southward between September and November.
"Right now there are lots of whales out there and there are lots of examples of whales breaching next to boats," Munro said.
In June, eight people were rescued after their sailboat capsized following a whale collision.