A Canadian woman was killed when a gray whale crashed into a tourist boat as it returned from a short trip to the resort city of Cabo San Lucas in Mexico.
Two other passengers were injured in the accident, which occurred near the beach on Wednesday.
As one of the whales, which grow to nearly 50 feet long and weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, breached the water’s surface, it came crashing onto an inflatable sightseeing boat piloted by the tour company Cabo Adventures, the New York Daily News reported.
“The captain had to make a movement to avoid a whale that surfaced just in front of the boat,” Cabo Adventures said in statement. “The whale hit one side of the boat, leaving two people injured and another passenger hurt who, unfortunately, later died in hospital.”
Port director Vicente Martínez told The Guardian that the woman was 45 years old. Some reports said she was 10 years younger.
One reported version said the whale jumped out of the water and landed on the boat, which was carrying 24 people, including the crew.
Cabo San Lucas promotes whale watching among its major attractions, promising tourists safe and awe-inspiring encounters with the huge, docile mammals that every winter migrate thousands of miles from Arctic waters to warm shallow lagoons off the Mexican coast, where they breed.
The fatality happened on the same day that Mexican authorities announced that a particularly high number of gray whales had gathered in the area during this year’s season, which runs from mid-December until the end of April.
The National Commission for Natural Protected Areas said its census indicated a 10 percent increase from the previous season, making it one of the highest migrations registered in the past two decades.