|FYI — October 2002|
|By Brad Dunn|
of the Sturgeon
Collisions between sturgeon and boaters are on the rise this year in the freshwater rivers of Florida, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal. Sturgeon, which have increased in number after they were classified a threatened species in 1991, can grow more than six feet long and weigh up to 500 pounds, making them particularly dangerous projectiles.
Take the case of Danny Cordero, 19, who was cruising the Suwannee River on a PWC with his girlfriend this past Fourth of July. A sturgeon jumped out of the water and knocked them both off the vehicle before they could react. "I don't remember anything," Cordero told the local newspaper. "My girlfriend said it was like hitting a brick wall." The couple suffered minor injuries but were able to swim to shore.
On Memorial Day weekend, Lacy Redd, 34, an elementary school principal from Gainesville, Florida, suffered five broken ribs when a five-foot-long, 150-pound sturgeon shot out of the water into her family's boat and knocked her out. She said her family never saw it coming.
Boaters of the Suwannee River say such fish collisions are on the rise not only because the fish are multiplying, but because boat traffic has increased. Making matters worse, male sturgeon can leap extraordinarily high out of the water during spawning season.
Just ask the Gilchrist County sheriff's department. A few summers ago a sheriff's deputy was patrolling the river in a boat when a 106-pound sturgeon exploded through the windshield and knocked him down. "When he called in on the radio, they didn't believe him at first," says sheriff's chief Harvey Montgomery.
Keeping a careful eye out for leaping fish is probably the best way to safeguard yourself against a surprise sturgeon attack. If you're boating in known sturgeon spawning areas, be especially cautious. You never know when--or where--they may strike.
Shelves: Honey, Let's Get a Boat
The Fish Expo and WorkBoat Atlantic Boat Show in Providence, Rhode
This article originally appeared in the September 2002 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.