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

Post by:
Filed under: Animals • Florida • Nature • Sharks • Texas
soundoff (216 Responses)
  1. Just Say No to WASPs

    Mother nature is fighting back. Karma's a b**ch.

    March 30, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Paul Bishop

    Poor fish. One minute your enjoying lunch and the next your somebody elses's lunch!

    March 30, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Guess Who?

    cmon mako my day! weird fish....

    March 30, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. dude

    what a f*ing stupid headline!

    March 30, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Greg from MN

    I have a guess. Some of the bigger predatory sharks tend to ambush prey from below and with a great burst of speed, they come up and attack the victim, catching them unawares. If they had bait or were trailing chum or a big piece of fish on a rope, the Mako could have ambushed it with such velocity that it launched itself from the water and onto the boat.

    Makes more sense than the captains wild reproduction theory.

    March 30, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. manmademyth

    its cause the world is ending face it, do your research ya got months left before a pole shift

    March 30, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Burbank

      Stop the fear mongering. A pole shift isn't going to do much other than cause your water to swirl the other way down the drain.

      March 30, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mikey B

      I just had a pole shift in my pants!!

      March 30, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. g-dub

    come on oprah......we all thought you'd be moving on by now.....!

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

      She's too busy focusing on the over 9000 pedos raping children at this moment.

      March 30, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Burgermeister Meisterburger

      Actually she's picking ding dong foil outa her teeth.

      March 30, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. wife_of_a_soldier

    "This mako shark threw itself onto a boat off Texas on Sunday. . . " Maybe the Shark knew it was from Texas and was attempting to off itself. Just saying. . .

    March 30, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Raj

    Hey.. for a moment I thought its Larry king !.

    March 30, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. die die

    aw. i wish they could have put it back in the water somehow, instead of slaughtering it... i guess it would have been impossible.

    March 30, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Roland

    The sea could be contaminated.

    March 30, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Angela

    It's Obamas fault.

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


      March 30, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • SomethingDifferent

      Nah, it's still Bush's fault

      March 30, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • bushisanidiot

      Bush is an idiot.

      March 31, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • wsj

      So is Obama.

      April 1, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. System You

    So the shark jumped in the boat and then they killed it.

    March 30, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. eimaj

    wha next jumping jellyfish
    that would be i sight

    March 30, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. cissy-girl

    The shark was probably on GPGP – giant pacific garbage patch. It's like an aquatic meth lab for sea creatures.

    March 30, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • SomethingDifferent

      Well, until the Pacific ocean is off the coast of Texas, that's probably unlikely...

      March 30, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • ralphie

      Uh, yeah, meth labs.....and just what are you taking? And Something, don't be too hard on her, she might be from California and can't help it.

      March 30, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10