[MARINE_BIOLOGY_INTERNATIONAL] Jumping sturgeon injures woman


Jumping sturgeon injures woman

Wednesday, 22 Jun 2011, 7:26 AM EDT

FOX 13 News

PLANT CITY (FL) - Medics and strangers rushed to help a young Plant City woman who didn't know what hit her.

"And bam! I mean, the boat just went bam!" Marcia Miller told FOX 13.

That "bam" was a big sturgeon fish jumping from the water and onto the boat. Miller was sitting right next to her daughter, April, on the bow while they were boating Friday along the Suwannee River.

"I looked over and glass was just raining over everything," Miller said. "April was (slumped over), and I saw just a flash go."

The jumping sturgeon slammed right into April Baker, breaking multiple bones in her face and jaw and cracking her eye socket.

Biologists aren't sure why sturgeon jump. They say it's not a means of aggression, but when sturgeon collide with boaters, the results can be devastating.

"The particular concern with sturgeon is that they are extremely large," said Florida Aquarium senior biologist Jordan Ward. "I mean, these animals can go up to 200 pounds."

Sturgeon weigh an average of 40 pounds. They can be over 8 feet long. Their scales are tough and jagged. Florida Fish and Wildlife warns boaters on the Suwannee River to beware of them.

That's where the state's largest population of gulf sturgeon lives.

"Sometimes their choices bring us toward us, so we just have to be aware that when they are near us take a little bit of extra caution," Ward said.

FWC says boaters must wear life jackets and should slow down to reduce the impact.

Meanwhile, Baker is recovering from her injuries. She'll need surgery, but Miller said she's glad it wasn't worse.

Baker's black and blue, swollen, and in need of surgery.

"If it would've been a half inch higher, it would've taken her eye out," she said.

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