A leaping sturgeon broke a 6-year-old girl’s leg and left her aunt with cuts and bruises yesterday in this year’s third such incident on Florida’s Suwannee River.
The Associated Press reports today that Taylor Lane Owen was a passenger on a 20-foot vessel, along with her parents and other family members when a three foot sturgeon leapt out of the river about nine miles west of Chiefland.
It marked the third confirmed sturgeon strike and fourth injury for 2007.
Earlier this month, a woman was knocked unconscious by a jumping gulf sturgeon when the boat in which she was riding passed a bridge near Rock Bluff. And in April a sturgeon severely injured a 50-year-old woman riding a personal watercraft on the river. She suffered a ruptured spleen and had three fingers reattached by surgeons, but she lost her left pinkie finger and a tooth.
A record ten people were injured by jumping sturgeon in 2006. As a result, signs were placed at boat ramps and other points along the Suwannee, warning boaters of the river’s famous flying fish, which can top 8 feet and weigh up to 200 pounds.
A protected species, gulf sturgeon enter the Suwannee River from the Gulf of Mexico and spawn there during the summer months.
In addition to its size, the sturgeon’s bony protruding back plates can make a close encounter potentially life threatening.