(WFLA/NBC) – Two women were injured by a humpback whale after swimming with the giant mammals off the northwest Australian coast.
Footage filmed by eyewitnesses shows the 50-foot mother whale swimming with her calf near a large group of swimmers at Ningaloo Reef on Saturday.
She was apparently protecting her calf when she swam at the group of snorkelers and swung her tail at them.
A 29-year-old woman was struck by the tail and sustained fractured ribs and internal bleeding.
She was flown to a Perth hospital on Sunday and reportedly remained in serious, but stable condition.
A second swimmer was struck by the same whale’s pectoral fin, which local media said tore the swimmer’s hamstring.
The Western Australian state government licenses tour operations and sets conditions, including keeping swimmers a safe distance from whales they they observe.