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Whale whomping: Jumping humpback lands on boat; no one hurt

Humpback whale breaching in Plymouth, Massachusetts
Humpback whale breaching in Plymouth, Massachusetts

Boaters and whale watchers off Massachusetts got a surprise over the weekend when a humpback whale breached and landed on the bow of a 19-foot vessel.

The boat operator reported no injuries and no damage that affected the seaworthiness of the vessel, according to officials in Plymouth, on Cape Cod Bay.

Several boats were around the whale Sunday when it made the jump. Video footage shows it launching its body out of the water and its head slamming onto the front of a boat, tipping the rear of the vessel out of the water as it slid back into the ocean.

Humpback whales can grow up to 62 feet long and weight up to 53 tons. They are popular with whale watchers because of their acrobatic displays — including spectacular breachings in which they launch their school-bus-size bodies entirely out of the water and slap the surface with their pectoral fins or tails.

The Plymouth harbormaster said collisions like that off Plymouth are rare and can be dangerous for both boaters and whales. The harbormaster recommends that boaters stay at least 100 yards from humpbacks to minimize such meetings.

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