DEAL, NJ — A whale flipped a small fishing boat about one mile off of Deal yesterday morning, tossing its two occupants overboard but not before they could issue a mayday from their radio, according to the New Jersey State Police.

Luckily for them, the emergency call was heard by a nearby boater, retired Trenton firefighter Gary Szabo, who has had his share of rescues, but none on the water.

“It started out as a nice day of fluke fishing. Heard a boat calling a mayday which was about one-half mile from my position,” he posted on Facebook. “Found two guys in the water hanging onto their capsized boat. Was easy to get them on my boat due to my dive ladder.”

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No one was hurt in the August 16 incident, which occurred about five miles north of the Belmar coastline where whales and dolphins are common sights throughout the year, and baby seals come ashore in the spring.

In this fluke mishap in Deal, it is believed that whales were feeding on bait fish in the waters when one attempted to surface from under the 20-foot boat, causing it to overturn. Assisting in the rescue were the U.S. Coast Guard and New Jersey State Police whose Marine Services Bureau is investigating the incident.

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