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 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.

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

Szabo wrote that the whales were feeding on the bait fish in the area and flipped the boat over. 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.