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. Rob

    It's simple...They are getting tired of swimming in the badly polluted water and wreaking vengeance on the land dwellers. Just when you thought it was safe to be on a boat! muhahahahaha

    March 30, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Armando

    it committed fisacide

    March 30, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan


      March 30, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • ken


      March 30, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. runner305

    Now THAT ....was hilarious!

    March 30, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Armando

    or rather sharckacide

    March 30, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. LiberalNN

    Don't you see? Mother Nature is sick of us and is amassing an animal army to kill us all!!

    March 30, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tony

    that's because we are dumping mercury and radiation into the ocean

    March 30, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. OutOfContext

    Obama is covering up the jumping sea creature problem. When are we going to see real leadership from the Oval office in our efforts against these beast of the sea?

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

    Mako is one tasty Shark.

    March 30, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. LMAO

    Perhaps they are trying to tell us to stop polluting their toilet.

    March 30, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Geoff St Croix

    Can't these animals play. Sure they are jumping up and landing on a boat. How are they suppose to know that they are going to be caught. Is there something wrong with the sharks that are on the show AIR JAWS?

    March 30, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mj

    Don't jump until you see the whites of their eyes .....

    March 30, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. PinkTacoTickler

    I was just wondering if the captain of the boat had just eaten a peanut butter snickers to make that shark jump into his boat..

    March 30, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      bwahahahahahaha.......I love it! Snickers is running secret product testing out in open waters.

      March 30, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • 2tacosfor99cents

      Steve was delicious!

      March 30, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • HamsterDancer

      Eat both squares, please!

      March 30, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Burgermeister Meisterburger

      Snap into a SLIM JIM!!!!

      March 30, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DJ in VA

    maybe too many pollutants in the water??? Lets see, the oil disaster in the gulf followed by levels of radiation 3,000+ times higher than normal now spewing into the Pacific. I would be looking for a boat to launch myself on as well.

    March 30, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Molly

      Haha...Your's is undoubtedly the BEST POST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      March 30, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew Dice Clay

      How about instead you launch yourself into oncoming traffic, OH!

      March 30, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Burbank

      My thoughts exactly!

      March 30, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arod92

      ^ This reasoning sounds like the beginning of some critical thinking.


      March 30, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MT629

    Maybe the marine life are pi$$ed and they aren't gonna take it anymore.

    March 30, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jordan

    My guess would be environmental stresses...Plastics, depleted oxygen zones, pharmaceutical hormones in the water, and of course, insanity from watching FOX News....

    March 30, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • SomethingDifferent

      Try not to choke on the granola 🙂

      March 30, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • wsj

      Make sure you take your meds today.

      April 1, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
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