Leaping sea creatures: Do we need bigger boats?
This mako shark threw itself onto a boat off Texas on Sunday.
March 30th, 2011
01:05 PM ET

Leaping sea creatures: Do we need bigger boats?

Last Friday, a 300-pound eagle ray leaps onto a boat off the Florida Keys. On Sunday, a 375-pound mako shark jumps onto a boat off Texas.

What's up with the leaping sea creatures? Has Aquaman's telepathic message been scrambled? Are the buddies of "Jaws" seeking revenge? Are we going to need bigger boats?

Actually, "many ocean animals do jump out of the water when either chasing prey or trying to elude a predator," Timothy J. Mullican, vice president of zoological operations at the Georgia Aquarium, said in an e-mail to CNN. And the eagle ray and mako shark are both known jumpers, he said.

But plopping on a boat is far from the usual result, he said.

In the Florida case, "the presence of the boat may have spooked the eagle ray, or it may just be a one-in-a-million intersection of boat and animal," Mullican said.

And off Texas, "the shark could have conceivably been accelerating through the cloud of 'chum,' broken the surface and unfortunately found a boat occupying the space where it was going to land," Mullican said.

On landbigfish.com, fishing guide Dennis Dobson also provides a few ideas why free fish - those yet to taste the hook - jump. Females may be trying to loosen eggs for spawning, he says, and both sexes may be trying to rid themselves of parasites. Or, he writes tongue in cheek,  they may be just "flipping the fin" to fishermen.

If that's the case, then some fishermen have figured them out. They count on their catch leaping aboard. The book "Fish Catching Methods of the World" describes how fishermen in several countries rely on fish behavior instead of hooks and nets.

And leaping aquatic creatures aren't only found on oceans, rivers and lakes. I know this from personal childhood trauma. That goldfish gasping for oxygen on my childhood bedroom floor didn't jump from its bowl with a death wish, my parents assured me. That was just what fish sometimes did.

And while last weekend's two incidents were obvious shockers for those on board the two boats, imagine if a great white shark plopped onto your bow. That's exactly what happened to some German tourists off South Africa a few years ago. Get their view here.

In South Africa, the great white got away. And the Florida ray was set free. But things didn't end so well for the Texas mako or my goldfish.

[cnn-video url="http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2011/03/30/vo.tx.shark.boat.khou"%5D

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Filed under: Animals • Florida • Nature • Sharks • Texas
soundoff (216 Responses)
  1. jrod

    He was looking for a Reese's Pieces...

    March 30, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicely done

      High five!

      March 30, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • ArmanX

      Heeeyyy... where's the creamy filling?

      March 30, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • stephanie

      He was looking for Steve who at the peanut butter snickers!

      March 30, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Steven Mc

    I believe the true nature of sea creatures is coming into play, and they are all, in fact, natural rapists.

    March 30, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Chris

    they let him suffocate in the boat, that's real nice...

    March 30, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trav

      Ok bro, you go grab a 400 lb thrashing shark and put it back in the water.

      March 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • whatguy

      I am rather with Trav on this one Chris, I love animals and actually like sharks, but a freaked out shark thrashing about because it landed on a boat after jumping out of a bloody mess looking for food is not exactly the easiest or safest animal to put back in the ocean. They would have had to try to do this by hand, would probably have lost at least part of a fisherman if not a fisherman or 2.

      March 30, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • jv7777


      March 30, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Andrew

    It's the dispersants stupid!!! Remember the biggest oil spill in USSA history?? The gulf oil spill of 2010.....remember??? Search: THe Blackstone Group and read about their investments....Halliburton and the disspersant used AT THE SOURCE OF THE BLOW OUT PREVENTER.......tens of thousands of gallons of this disspersant were used, ocean life has been dying and "flying" ever since!!!!! wake up sheeple or enjoy the slaughter (in the ocean, on land and in the air) Wherever there is life, these groups (Blackstone, CFR, anything Rockerfeller) will attempt to kill it........Look up and see the aerial spraying almost daily (geoengineering by humans) .....Greed Greed Greed has become the mantra

    March 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      USSA? Is that like United Soviet States of America or something...

      March 30, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      It's like in that movie Food of the Gods!

      Thank you for reminding us of something that happened WAAAAY back in 2010.

      March 30, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. some shark

    We're not mindless maneaters. We have dreams too.

    Thoughtfully Yours,

    Some Random Shark

    March 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      I used to be loney. Then I found a site just for us!


      There I can find many loney Sharks searching for that perfect mate like me!

      March 30, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. C-man

    Sorry to see this magnificent creature die.

    March 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Popeye

      Sushi! Shark fin soup! Shark skin purse! Shark fillets! shark teeth necklaces... and that's all i know about shark.

      March 30, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. doug

    read about Kon-Tiki. Fish jump all the time.

    March 30, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. shark/ray--man

    Im shark-ray–man I control all sharks and rays... There is going to be more and more of these type of incidents because the news outlets are eatting it up... I will start to sent whales onto pier's and things of that nature...

    March 30, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |

    i was eating my puppy chow the other night and i thought how nice it would be to eat some mako shark meat. hmmm looks like dinner to me!

    March 30, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. heyrolion

    He heard they had Kit Kats

    March 30, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jinda

    If oil and pollution were pouring into your home, you'd be hopping to find a new one too!

    March 30, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      He lives in Jersey?

      March 30, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Blessedbe

    They are jumping because humans are poluting the oceans!!!

    March 30, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. hankers

    It's evolution. swimming fish... leaping fish... basketball player

    March 30, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Religious sects

    They're attempting to fly... it's their next step in evolution. This will continue & increase in frequency since they didn't return the "other" creatures now believe these guys were successful !

    March 30, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • SSampson

      OK – THAT is funny

      March 30, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • JT

      Could you imagine flying sharks? If we couldn't train them for military purposes I say we exterminate them before they get thumbs next...

      March 30, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. lovefish

    If that was a 400 lb human the body would be shown with more respect. Why bigger boats? Stay out of their domain and let them be...

    March 30, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • bwdarr

      The "bigger boat" question was only a tongue-in-cheek joke quoting the line from Jaws. The article doesn't literally mean we need larger boats.

      March 30, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
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