Tourists on a New Hampshire whale-watching boat became witnesses when a 24-foot sport boat raced over a surfacing 60-foot finback whale and opened a gash in the mammal with the boat propeller.
“I was watching the fin whale through binoculars, trying to get a good look at its dorsal fin,” Katie Murphy, a naturalist and associate scientist with the Blue Ocean Society (www.blueoceansociety.org), said in a press release. “All of the sudden, there was this great splash and the boat emerged through it. I was shocked.”
The boat was going an estimated 22 knots, according to news reports. Witnesses photographed the boat as it sped away. The driver of the boat reported the whale strike later, according to the Coast Guard.
Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the driver could face up to a year in prison or a $25,000 fine, but charges require proof that the act was intentional or neglectful.
Marine environmentalists say the whale should recover and urged boats to use caution when cruising in areas frequented by marine mammals.