Friday, March 21, 2008

Ray Flies Out of Water, Collides with and Kills Unlucky Woman on Boat


Here is an incredibly sad story from the Florida Keys about a woman who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. According to the article in the Naples News, a woman was pleasure-boating with her family in the Keys, cruising along in their small boat, when a 75 pound spotted eagle ray jumped out of the water and collided with her. Depending on which news account you read, the boat was traveling somewhere between 25 and 40 miles per hour. Apparently the force of the collision killed both the woman and the ray.

Rays are not known for doing a lot of jumping, but they can leap clear of the water, and obviously they sometimes do. Please understand that the ray did not "attack" the woman, as some dramatically overstated and irresponsible initial newspaper headlines have stated. The ray was, I'm sure, just as surprised by the woman as she by it.

Reports of large marine animals leaping out of the water and killing or injuring a person on a boat are heard every year. Unusual, yes; unheard of, no.

Barracuda and other fish are known to have jumped out of the water and collided with fishermen. This is sometimes attributed to the fish being attracted to a lantern or other light on the boat.

On freshwater rivers and lakes in Florida, the sturgeon (a very large and armored fish)is known to leap out of the water during certain times of the year and sometimes collides with people. Just last year I read of a woman on a jet-ski who was hit head-on by a large sturgeon while zooming along on her jet-ski.

Jumping sturgeon news report.

I took the photo above while standing on the boardwalk at Clam Pass Park in Naples, Florida. The spotted eagle ray was swimming about two feet under the surface of the tannin-stained backwater. It swam right under the boardwalk. They are very beautiful and graceful creatures.

If you have a little patience and don't mind waiting 20 seconds for the page to load, MSNBC has a good video report on rays and interviewed an expert at the Miami Seaquarium.

Note: If you click the heading, or the link in this blog post to read the Naples News story, may I suggest that you read the comments below the article as well. There are a few goofy ones, but also some helpful and interesting comments as well. And those are even rarer than jumping rays.

Florida Beaches Information

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