Fisherman killed after whale lands on boat

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ California Scuba Diving BBS ] [ FAQ ]

Posted by . on September 03, 2002 at 18:37:30:

MORRO BAY, California (Reuters) -- A California fisherman was killed after a large
whale unexpectedly breached over his boat, smashing into the deck and hurling him into
the water, a Coast Guard official said on Tuesday.

Chief Michael Saindon of the Morro Bay Coast Guard Station said the body of Jerry Tibbs, A
51-year-old restaurant owner from Bakersfield, California, was recovered Monday, more than
12 hours after the accident.

"I've had countless calls where boats hit whales, but this is the first time I've ever had a
whale breach and hit a boat," Saindon said. "They were just two big things in the wrong place
at the wrong time."

Tibbs, the owner of Mr. Tibb's Ribbs in Bakersfield, and several companions were on a tuna
fishing trip several miles offshore Sunday when the whale breached with a spectacular leap out
of the water right over their boat, a 22-foot motor vessel named the "BBQ."

Saindon said the survivors reported that the whale crash landed onto the boat deck, damaging
the pilot house and throwing Tibbs into the water.

There were no other reported injuries.

"The superstructure crushed and there was damage to the rails and the transom was damaged.
The whale came up out of the water, landed on the superstructure, and slid back off into the
water," Saindon said. "We found a lot of whale skin on the boat."

The Coast Guard, aided by the Morro Bay Harbor Patrol and aircraft from the California
Highway Patrol, mounted an extensive search in the area but was hampered by heavy fog.
After about 17 hours, Tibbs' body was finally located and brought back to Port San Luis,
Saindon said.

Saindon said the survivors were not able to identify the type of whale, which they described as
"very large." Gray whales and humpback whales are often sighted off the central California

"Both gray whales and humpback whales are known to breach quite frequently," said Steven
Webster, senior marine biologist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California.

"You can't talk to a whale, so we don't know why they do it. It's thought that in some
instances, they are just having fun, while breaching. Crashing and tail snapping is sometimes
one male either trying to impress a nearby female, or telling the other males to clear off."

Follow Ups:

Post a Followup




[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ California Scuba Diving BBS ] [ FAQ ]