Kiwi surfer knocked unconscious by whale

LUCY CARROLL AND DAMIEN MURPHY
Last updated 18:11 07/07/2013
The 10-metre whale, right, moves its mighty tail near the surfers at Bondi Beach on Sunday.
RORY EDWARDS/Fairfax Media

MOMENT OF IMPACT: The 10-metre whale, right, moves its mighty tail near the surfers at Bondi Beach on Sunday.

Surfer Bishan Rajapaske
JAMES ALCOCK/Fairfax Australia
RECOVERING: Bondi surfer Bishan Rajapaske at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney.

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A surfer who was knocked unconscious at Bondi Beach by a whale's tail said the last thing he remembered was saying, “Hey, how's it going?” to the whale which was less then a metre from him.

Bishan Rajapakse, 38, a doctor living in Bondi, was knocked unconscious for 10 seconds before he was dragged to the beach by his friend and a Bondi lifeguard.

“I remember trying to talk to it . . . before I realised I was off my board and on my front,” Rajapakse said.

The Sri-Lankan born New Zealander said he had been surfing at the southern end of the beach for about an hour on Sunday morning when his friend Chris signalled for him to paddle over.

“When I got to him I saw there was this dark, black shadow and it was just massive.

“The whale was moving in like slow motion. It was beautiful and it breached and we could see the barnacles and it was slowly going up and down and turning and it actually made a noise. It was amazing."

Speaking from his bed at St Vincent's Hospital, Dr Rajapakse said he had no injuries apart from a slight headache.
"Contacting whales is not what it's cracked up to be. They look nice and soft but I can't remember contacting it. Maybe it contacted me."

He said he had no recollection of being thrown off his board. “My mate Chris was there when I came to and was like 'Bish, you've been hit by a whale'.

Apparently my face was down in the water and then I was talking to one of the Bondi Rescue dudes. Then I was on the shore and in the ambulance before I knew it.”

Rajapakse joked that his encounter with the southern right whale had ruined his plans for brunch. “I've got a slight headache but I was really hoping to have brunch. Somehow I don't think that's going to happen today."

The director of the emergency department at St Vincent's, Gordian Fulde, said the surfer would probably be discharged by the end of Sunday.

- with Emma Partridge 

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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