Survival Animal Attacks

Woman Speared by Sailfish During Florida Fishing Trip

The fish came out of the water so fast that the 73-year-old woman didn't have time to react
hooked sailfish wiki commons
Sailfish are known for putting on an aerial display when hooked. Wikimedia Commons

A 73-year-old woman was speared by a 100-pound sailfish while fishing off the Florida coast last Tuesday. Katherine Perkins, of Arnold, Maryland, was sitting by the center console when a hooked sailfish jumped out of the water and over the stern of the boat, stabbing her in the groin.

“It happened so fast, I didn’t have time to react,” Perkins told the responding officer. 

Perkins was out fishing that day with friends Louis Toth, 75, and Dominic Bellezza, 77. Both men are from Stuart, Florida, which calls itself the “Sailfish Capital of the World.” The three were roughly two miles offshore from the St. Lucie Inlet when they hooked the sailfish, which they estimated to be around 100 pounds. Toth was fighting the fish, and as it neared the back of the boat, it charged right at the anglers, jumped out of the water and impaled Perkins with its long, pointed bill, according to an incident report filed by the Martin County Sheriff’s Office.  

Perkins became “incoherent” after the sailfish stabbed her, according to the report.

Toth and Bellezza immediately began applying pressure to the wound and called emergency services as they headed back for shore. First responders were waiting when they got there, and Perkins was airlifted to HCN Florida Lawnwood Hospital, where she was treated for her wounds.

Her current medical status is unknown, but a spokesperson for the hospital told CNN that the woman was in good condition as of Sunday.  

Read Next: Sailfish vs Swordfish

Considered the fastest fish in the ocean, sailfish can reach top speeds of 70 miles per hour, according to Oceana. The animals derive their name from their dorsal fin, which resembles a sail and can be taller than their entire body. Like marlin and swordfish—the other two members of the billfish family—sailfish use their sharp, pointed bills (also known as “rostrums”) to stab and slash at prey.   

Sailfish are the state saltwater fish of Florida, and they are revered by anglers for their speed and acrobatics when hooked. While they don’t grow as large as marlin or swordfish, they can top 200 pounds. The current state record weighed 126 pounds and was caught near Big Pine Key in 2009.