A bodyboarder’s wetsuit was torn from the force of a collision with a dolphin on the NSW south coast.
Paramedics were called to Bawley Point, about 30 kilometres south of Ulladulla, about 9am (AEDT) on Monday where they found the man, who had made it to the beach.
“He has come over a wave and as he did so, a dolphin has come through and hit him in the pelvic area,” NSW Ambulance operations manager Wayne Dunlop said.
“The force has been enough to tear the patient’s wetsuit.”
The man was taken by ambulance to Milton Hospital before being airlifted to Sydney’s St George Hospital.
He has lower abdominal injuries and is in stable condition.
It is believed the dolphin swum away after the collision.
The incident revived memories of a surfer being hit by a whale’s tail at Bondi Beach in July.
Marine research group ORCCA’s president Ronny Ling said it was hard to tell whether the dolphin had deliberately struck the bodyboarder.
“They (dolphins) can always miscalculate,” he told AAP.
“There is a possibility of error there on the animal’s behalf.”
By law, swimmers are required to stay 50 metres away from dolphins and 100 metres from whales.
Dolphin rammings reported in NSW in the past usually occurred when people tried to interact with the unpredictable animals, Mr Ling said.
“Dolphins have killed people overseas in the past,” he said.
“We’ve had a lot of cases lately of people trying to hold on to dolphins.
“That’s what they (dolphins) don’t like.”