Whale knocks Bondi Beach surfer unconscious

A record number of whales have been venturing close to the shores around Sydney, Australia - a delight for tourists, but not necessarily for the surfers looking to catch a wave at Bondi Beach.

On Sunday morning, a 15-meter southern right whale, traveling with its calf, surfaced in the popular surfing zone. Seemingly transfixed, many of the surfers stopped to take pictures. But as the whale turned to swim back out to sea, it knocked two surfers off their boards. Bishan Rajapakse landed face down and lost consciousness for about 10 seconds. Fellow surfers pulled him onto a board and back to the beach, where medics took over and rushed him to the hospital.

"It's pretty hard to move away from that temptation because I guess the whale was looking so placid, but everyone was pretty conscious that that tail could whack you," Rajapske told the Australian Broadcast Corporation. He is now recovering with a shoulder injury.

As of July 3, the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has spotted more than 1,600 Humpback whales passing the counting station at Cape Solander in the Kamay Botany Bay National Park, according to the NPWS Coordinator of Marine Fauna Programs. He told the website Great Walks that about 1,250 whales were counted each year in 2011 and 2012.

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    Danielle Elliot is a freelance science editor and reporter for CBS News. She holds an M.A. in science and health journalism from Columbia University and a B.A. in broadcast journalism from the University of Maryland. Follow her on Twitter - @daniellelliot.