Jumping fish hurt Florida boaters

July 4, 2007 at 2:06 PM
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BRANFORD, Fla., July 4 (UPI) -- It's the season for sturgeon to jump from Florida's Suwanee River -- and boaters sometimes suffer serious injuries as a result.

The prehistoric-looking fish have hurt three people so far this year as they leapt from the Suwanee waters, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Eight people were hurt last year by the jumping fish.

"These injuries are very impressive," Dr. Lawrence Lottenberg, director of trauma surgery at the University of Florida College of Medicine, told the Times. "You've got people sitting on the front of an open boat, and the boat is going 20, 30, 40 mph. The fish jumps up and usually slaps these people right across their face and upper chest. Almost every one of them universally has been knocked unconscious."

The sturgeon, which is listed as threatened, is covered with armor-like plates and can grow to 200 pounds and 8 feet long. No one is sure why they jump.

"We say, 'Pretty much because they can,'" Karen Parker, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told the Times.

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