DEAL — A whale that surfaced under a boat threw its occupants into the ocean who were rescued by a retired Trenton firefighter.

State Police said the whale surfaced about a mile east of Deal on Thursday morning under the 20-foot boat. The two men on board, Jonathan Swingle and Bill Sobek,  managed to call out a mayday on their radio, which was heard by Gary Szabo, a retired the former captain of Trenton's Rescue Squad out in his own boat for a day of fluke fishing.

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"Heard a boat calling a mayday which was about half mile from my position. Found 2 guys in the water hanging on to their capsized boat . . . was easy to get them on my boat due to my dive ladder," Szabo wrote on his Facebook page.

Swingle told New Jersey 101.5's Bill Spadea said he and Sobek watched the whale about 100 yards away come up a couple times almost vertically in the large bunkers of fluke.

"After awhile he wasn't bothering us, we weren't getting any nearer to him," Swingle said. Then the whale seemingly disappeared for about 30 minutes until they heard the whale's blow hole go off.

"We saw a fin. I'm on one side of the boat, Bill's on the other and all of a sudden the boat's just accelerating  vertically. The port side is lifting towards Bill's side. Somewhere in that second I was arirbourne before I hit the drink I had the thought that the whale hit us. What else would it be in the middle of a calm sea?"

Swingle said he joked with Sobek as the hung on the boat that the paint job on the boat held up really well.

He was more worried about sharks being attracted to the fluke than the whale hurting them.

Two other boats, the Coast Guard and the State Police helicopter also came to the rescue of the men.

Bait fish were also blamed for attracting seagulls to Seaside Heights, which increased the bacteria level of several beaches tested by the state leading to the closure of all the ocean beaches on Thursday morning.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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