A man who died after his boat was struck by a breaching whale in waters off Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs has been identified.
Police were called to Cape Banks at La Perouse after reports an unoccupied boat was found circling about 6am on Saturday.
Officers pulled an unconscious man from the waters, but tragically were unable to revive him and he was declared deceased.
The man has since been identified as Stuart Collings, 61, who is believed to have been a passenger on the boat.
A second man, Mr Collings’ brother-in-law and skipper Darren Curmi, was helped out of the water by witnesses and brought to land.
The 53-year-old was rushed by NSW Ambulance paramedics to St George Hospital where he remains in a stable condition.
Police believe the 4.8m runabout vessel was likely struck or impacted by a breaching whale, causing it to tilt and eject both men.
Acting Superintendent Siobhan Munro said the two men were likely in the water for about 45 minutes before they spotted another boat.
She said the incident was tragic but perhaps unsurprising given whales’ tendency to “breach” out of the water.
“It is not unheard of, the stories of whales breaching next to boats, which is obviously captured (on film) quite often,” she said.
“So this is a tragic accident but not one that I guess would be … unexpected.”
“It is a stark reminder that, although you could be out on the water having the best day, it could quickly turn into one of the worst days.”
NSW Police minister Yasmin Catley gave condolences to the family of the deceased man after the “terribly tragic” incident.
“It’s a stark reminder really of just how dangerous the water can be,” Catley said.
The Foreshore Road Boat Ramp at Botany was closed on Saturday as police investigate the incident.
Under law, all boats are required to keep a distance of at least 100m from whales.
The southern migration, which includes well-known humpback whales, runs from September to November of Australia's east coast.