A surfer violently knocked unconscious by a whale has one whale of a tale to tell — and a wallop on his head to prove it.
Witnesses say Bishan Rajapaske, 38, nearly drowned Sunday when a curious whale swimming with her calf approached him and several other surfers before unexpectedly flicking its powerful tail along Australia's Bondi Beach in Sydney.
A man on shore described the people in the water as dispersing like Skittles once the massive creature that's believed to have been a Southern Right whale made its frightening move that was caught on camera.
Once the water had settled, Rajapaske, a doctor, was found floating face-down unconscious by friends who immediately pulled him to shore where he was rushed to St. Vincent's Hospital.
Speaking from his hospital room, with a brace around his neck, Rajapaske recalled the whale being absolutely magnificent and too good of an opportunity to resist getting closer to. I was just mesmerized by this whale and talking to it like you'd talk to a nice dog or something," Rajapaske told Sky News of his encounter.
"I said, 'Oh hello, how's it going?' At that point I thought, 'Let's just take a chance and see how it goes.' I was like a stunned mullet," he said.
Fellow surfer Mark Greig said he just had warned Rajapakse to move away when the whale abruptly turned, flipping its fin in the air and the surfer's limp body with it.He suffered an injured shoulder and concussion but described himself as generally all right.
Australia's National Parks and Wildlife advises swimmers to keep a minimum of 30 meters from a whale, with Southern Right whales able to get up to 80 tons.
Rajapaske now agrees.
"I think it's a good cautionary tale to tell people to watch from about 10 meters back. I had thought it was safe because there were other people there but that was an incorrect assumption," he told The Sidney Morning Herald.