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. Jeff

    The ocean is so toxic they want out!

    March 30, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mohamad

    Cesar, hijo de puta donde estas chucha de tu madre

    March 30, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jorge

      Que te hizo Cesar, guey?

      March 30, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. The End Is Coming !

    Sea creatures that start flying. Birds that stop flying. It's a sign .... 🙂

    March 30, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Acro-phobia

      Hopefully one that says "Eat at Joe's".

      March 30, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jazz7

      Yes indeed , live ,love and laugh to your fullest NOW

      March 30, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. sheikyerboutie

    It's BP's fault!

    March 30, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. zero74

    mmmm grilled mako taco...

    March 30, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. IceT

    ...and so the fish rapture begins!

    March 30, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Steve Herman

    It's a shame sharkie didn't jump on Obama's boat when he was visiting oil stricken Florida for ONE day last summer.

    March 30, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      The shark would probably jump back into the water realizing the boat already had a shark in it 🙂

      March 30, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • teafor2

      Nobama wouldn't of even made a decent meal! The shark would've spit him out!

      March 30, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Becky

    HE WAS LOOKING FOR THE GUY THAT TASTED LIKE SNICKERS SQUARES LOL

    March 30, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jaime

    Maybe is all that radiation we are throwing into the sea that all this creatures are searching for a better place to live.!!!

    March 30, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ELH

    Asian carp leaping when a boat nears them have become a serious problem on the Mississippi and tributaries.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yS7zkTnQVaM

    March 30, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • JOEY

      HMMMM.....I suggest the PRESIDENT OBAMA take a nice trip along the GULF OF MEXICO......

      March 30, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Steve Herman

    Next sharks will grow legs and walk among us!

    March 30, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Byrd

      They're already here and they're called lawyers, politicians and journalists.

      March 30, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Duane W

    I think I would drop something down my pants.....sheesh!

    March 30, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Quincey9

    "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?"

    Is CNN in need of actual news?! Holy boredom, Boss! We're just 2 seconds away from reporting on pie eating contests! What? We've stooped that low before?

    March 30, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. bull calf

    Go to YOU TUBE "Jumping asian carp-reel shot ". This is dangerous ,but looks like they enjoy ducking the fish. They need hard hats . This was one of the best videos.

    March 30, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Joe K

    All that oil in gulf is making them looney!

    March 30, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
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