‘I think everyone was shocked’: Father and son capture video of whale hitting boat in Plymouth
“I think it took everyone by surprise,” Enggasser said. “I think everyone was shocked.”
Enggasser, who lives in Duxbury, said his son captured the rare event on video, which has since gone viral online.
A number of boaters were following a large school of menhaden – or pogies – in the area at the time, he said. The Enggassers had spotted a whale in the distance rising for air and moving as fish popped above the surface.
Then, suddenly, it was closer than expected.
“We saw the baitfish start jumping in front of the boat,” just seconds before the whale started to break through, he said. “My son had kind of taken a video while I was fishing. [He] just happened to be able to get it at the right time.
Those aboard the boat the humpback whale landed on stood in the stern. They were away from the animal when it struck and “sort of rolled off the bow,” he said.
“I would say it was a much bigger breach than the previous ones,” Enggasser said.
The entire bow was pulled underwater, causing the engine at the rear to rise “in the air”, Enggasser said.
When the whale surfaced seconds later to get some air, it kept swimming “so it looked good,” he said.
“That boat that got hit was stationary. It wasn’t moving,” he said. “The whale, I think before, breached quite far from that boat. I don’t think that this guy could have known the whale was coming right there.
Engasser yelled at the boaters and they said “they were fine” too. But damage to a forward railing was visible, along with shards of glass on the boat’s forward hatch.
Enggasser, who often fishes in this part of Plymouth, said after watching his son’s video a few times, once they got back to shore it was “a bit scary to imagine we could have easily be affected”.
“If our [center console] boat was hit that way, I don’t think it would have bounced quite the same way theirs did,” he said.
Plymouth Harbor Master’s crews were stationed nearby on Sunday to monitor any potential breaches of the Marine Mammal Act, city officials said.
In recent days, boaters and people ashore have flocked to Manomet Point to see the whales.
On Friday, the harbor master urged boaters hoping to get a close-up of the recent whale feeding frenzy to watch out for the animals and not come “within 100 yards”.
Before the whale moved near the White Horse Beach area on Sunday, Enggasser said it was further offshore, where Massachusetts Environmental Police officials warned people to keep their distance.
Following the incident, officials on site checked on the group that was on the boat hit by the whale. No injuries were reported and the boat suffered no major damage.
Enggasser said the harbor master arrived less than a minute after the whale broke to escort the group to safety.
The harbor master passed information about what happened to the Massachusetts Environmental Police to investigate. The incident, the department tweeted, is a reminder of “how dangerous interactions between whales and boaters can become!”
Enggasser said while he’s seen whales take to the air before, he’s never seen anything like Sunday’s encounter.
“Even the way it broke through was quite dramatic compared to other activity I’ve seen in the area,” he said.
It was not the first time in recent days that a whale had struck a boat in this area.
Bob Babcock was paddling the glassy water off Manomet Point on Friday morning when he saw whales surfacing everywhere. Before he knew it, a whale slammed into a boat ahead of him, and soon after another dived and passed just below his board.
“I thought I was going to get knocked down but he didn’t touch me,” the 64-year-old Plymouth resident said in a Facebook post. “Amazing experience for sure.”