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Southern right whale's breach into South African couple's sailboat captured on video

July 23, 2010 |  1:19 pm

When a photo of a southern right whale crashing, mid-breach, into a sailboat surfaced earlier this week, some observers thought the shot was a little too perfect. Skeptics alleged that the now-famous photo, rather than being genuine, was merely evidence of someone's impressive Photoshop skills.

But a video that surfaced on the CBS Evening News on Thursday seems to lend credence to the story presented by the couple on the sailboat, Paloma Werner and Ralph Mothes of South Africa, who were boating in the waters off Cape Town when the whale breached and broke their boat's mast.

Werner and Mothes were unhurt, and it's believed that the whale emerged badly bruised and missing a bit of skin, but without serious injury. The animal is estimated to measure more than 30 feet and weigh 40 tons, and it's apparently young -- its near-disastrous breach may have amounted to nothing more than a bit of youthful exuberance, according to CBS News.

Despite Werner and Mothes' unswerving story that they weren't pursuing the whale, local authorities are investigating allegations that the incident could have involved illegal harassment of the animal.

Learn more about the breach seen 'round the world at The Times' outdoor sports blog, Outposts.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: CBS Evening News

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