Sunday, March 27, 2011

Jumping Gulf Sturgeon Injure Florida Boaters

Photo courtesy: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission via TreeHugger

This is happening in Florida, and involves flying sturgeon, not Asian carp. As highlighted by the trustworthy news source The recent injury of two boaters by jumping gulf sturgeon brings the toll to 11 in the state this summer, according to more established news sources like The Gainesville Sun.

The jumping sturgeon in the Suwanee River sound like the Florida version of flying Asian carp on the Illinois River. The latest Florida incident resulted in two injuries, one serious, and two damaged boats. The serious injury involved a 31-year-old woman who may need oral surgery to correct "significant dental damage," The Sun reports.

You can see these fish, a subspecies of the Atlantic sturgeon, in the video below, posted by ABC Action News. Gulf sturgeon can grow up to 8 feet in length and tip the scales at 200 pounds.

Florida authorities have been tallying up injuries from human encounters with the leaping sturgeon. There are signs posted to report incidents --- and slow down your boat to avoid injury.

When fish attack, what's next? Besides slowing down, boaters are urged to wear a life jacket just in case.

The first sturgeon strike of 2011 was in May, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission. The 11 injuries this year compare to zero in 2010.

The Commission has been working for the last five years to warn boaters about the dangers of jumping sturgeon. Biologists aren't sure why the sturgeon jump. The fish are protected by state and federal laws.

Back in May, the Sun explained:
"State biologists have said the Suwannee River has the biggest population of the fish, which ... have several rows of scutes on their backs, sides and bellies.

An estimated 10,000 to 14,000 sturgeon spend eight or nine months spawning in the river each year before moving out into the Gulf of Mexico for three or four months during the winter."

Via TreeHugger

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