A South African couple have had the fright of their lives when a Southern Right Whale jumped onto the deck of their boat.
Sailing instructor Ralph Mothes and his partner Paloma Werner were on their yacht "Intrepid" last Sunday, off the coast of Cape Town when they spotted the whale breaching out of the water some distance away.
"We were sailing on a course for Robben Island" said Mothes "and the next minute the whale was... coming towards the boat."
At the time Mothes told Werner he didn't think the whale would swim directly into them, and they continued sailing on their intended course.
Suddenly though, the whale breached right next to the Intrepid "and before you knew it, the next thing there it was," recounted the experienced yachtsman, who runs his own sailing school.
According to local media reports, the whale left pieces of skin and blubber on the Intrepid's deck, which will be analysed by scientists to see if they have any other records of the animal.
Mothes and Werner saw the whale swimming around minutes after the collision, and suspect it was uninjured by the encounter.
Some other media reports say that Mothes' boat may have harassed the whale, a charge he categorically denies.
Although the Intrepid's mast was snapped in two by the whale, the boat likely escaped any further damage because it has a steel hull.
Southern Right Whales are also noted for their poor eyesight which may have been a contributing factor in the collision.