Mexican authorities confirmed on March 12 that a gray whale slammed into a small, sightseeing boat, killing a 35-year-old Canadian tourist and seriously injuring two others.
“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of a Canadian citizen who passed away in Mexico,” said Diana Khaddaj, a spokesperson for the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs.
Marine Capt. Vicente Arturo Martinez Morale told CBC news that the victim was on vacation in Cabo with her husband and parents.
The Attorney General’s Office for Environmental Protection said that the victim was one of nine tourists aboard the sightseeing boat, “a fragile type with inflatable parts.” The vessel was headed back to the Cabo San Lucas resort, and was nearly to port when the collision occurred.
“The captain had to make a movement to avoid a whale that surfaced just in front of the boat,” Cabo Adventures tour company said in a statement. “The whale hit one side of the boat, leaving two people injured and another passenger hurt who, unfortunately, later died in hospital.”
Mexican officials told the Associated Press (AP) that, when the breaching whale landed on the vessel, the woman was thrown into the water and suffered head trauma from the crash. She was then taken to a hospital, where she died soon after.
Mexican authorities had recently announced that there have been an abnormally high number of gray whales in the Cabo area. Gray whales began migrating to warm waters off the coast of Mexico in the winter, where they’ll stay for months.
However, Joe Urban, a professor of biology at the Baja California State University who specializes in whales, told the AP that the whale was probably actually a humpback whale, saying, “Sometimes a ship will hit a whale, but we only learn about it from the scars on [the whales].”