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. Martin Harris

    They're evolving.

    March 30, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. WDrad

    We don't need bigger boats, we just need to kill more sea creatures!

    March 30, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Casual

    There must have been new Snickers Peanut Butter Squares on that boat.

    March 30, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jorge

    To those posters reviling the crew of the boat crashed by the shark. YOU try manhandling a thrashing, hungry 400lb shark overboard while standing on the slippery deck of a fishing boat, we'd like to see that.

    Hint-grab it by the jaw...

    March 30, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Red Yankee

    Well being in my mid to late 40's I find this article very funny. Does the author and any readers really think this is a new phenomenon that is happening? My goodness I remember reading stories about things like this back when I was a kid. A little research would have revealed this story did not have to written at all let alone in a way that would even try to suggest that this is something new.

    March 30, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mohamad

    Chumlee and Casual, hey guys! Here's mud in your eye: *splash* hahahah

    March 30, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. tom

    No hizo nada pedazo de maricon, porque preguntas chucha de tu madre

    March 30, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jazz7

    have two minutes till i have to go be back at 6pm , boobie

    March 30, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MPDano

    Wouldn't you leap out of the water if you were sucking down all that Plutonium being dumped in the ocean?

    March 30, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. BillyTheSquib

    You can see from the picture that the shark's eye is weird. He's blind and he thought the boat was a female mako. Boy did he get a shock. Naughty ole' Mako!!

    March 30, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JonathanL

    OMG I wondered what happened to my 7th grade Algebra teacher! I am sure that's him.

    March 30, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mohamad

    Hey Cat! Here's pie in your face *splatter* hahahaha

    March 30, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Justme

    Maybe the sharks are very depressed and its their way of committing suicide.

    March 30, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. DaMeglet

    They're trying to escape the radiation - DUH!

    March 30, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. WOLFMAN

    YOU KNOW WHAT THESE MEANS MR OBAMA YOURRRRRRRRRRR FATE LIES ON ARCH ANGEL MICHAELS ARMY OFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF BILLLLLLLLLLIONS OF ARCHANGELS WAITING ON MY COMMAND IN FACT THEY ARE RAGING WITH FOAM ITN THIER MOUTH SALIVATIN SWEET REVENG AGAINST NAZISMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM NO ONE IS GOING TO LISTEN TO YOU MR OBAMA EVEYONE KNOWS YOU ARE SATAN, BARAK MEANS LIGHTING OBAMA MEANS BLACK = SATAN AND AHHH NOW I CAN FIGHT YOU ONCE AND FOR ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL NWO

    March 30, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • pleasedotell

      Sir, Help is on the way, but I need you to do something for me. Remove your hands from the keyboard, back away from the computer & lay down on the floor. It's ok, you can't hurt yourself anymore.

      March 30, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
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