Police said an unconscious man was pulled from Botany Bay off the coast of Sydney and later died, while the other was taken to the hospital and is in stable condition.
New South Wales Police Minister Yasmin Catley said, “There’s a whale involved in this incident; who would have thought this would happen? It’s extremely tragic.”
Emergency Services Minister Jihadd Dib described the incident as “very unusual.” Police said in a statement that the boat “is likely to have collided with a whale or been impacted by it, causing the boat to tilt and the two men to be thrown out.” The type of whale was not specified.
Australia’s vast coastline is home to 10 large whale species and 20 smaller ones.
While human deaths from whales in the region are rare, Australia and neighboring New Zealand are known areas for group whale strandings on beaches.
In June, eight Danish nationals were rescued when their sailing boat capsized in the Pacific Ocean after colliding with one or two whales.