SYDNEY, June 30 (UPI) -- A group of surfers were almost hit by a giant southern whale off the coast of Sydney after they paddled too close to the animal Sunday, causing it to lash out.
A Nine News helicopter filmed the whale as a group of surfers ringed around the animal. The whale began to feel the stress of being surrounded and began to lash out, thrashing its tail. The surfers were told over a loudspeaker to leave the whale alone since others have been hospitalized from similar encounters.
"To be honest they were harassing it a bit. They were so close and it had no room to move," said Freshwater resident Ian Hansen.
Southern whales can weigh approximately 80 tons and grow to almost 200 feet long at full maturity.
Swimmers are required to remain 100 feet away from whales, while surfers and boats are told to stay more than 300 feet away.