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. Brody

    Smile you son of a bi(BOOM)

    March 30, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Alessandro Roza Ytterland

    Hummm The Shark Jumped and died? It`s was not ready to jump!

    March 30, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MyThoughts

    I wonder why they did not attempt to put it back in the water some how. Yes sharks are danergous but if there were enough ppl on board they could have trried.
    Poor shark just doing wht he likes, ends up on a boat then he dies..........wht a way to go. I bet he didnt even get his last meal 🙁

    March 30, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe kim.

      dont you think that shartk would be flailing around with its mouth trying to bite stuff...?
      its not like you can go to it and push it off the boat with a pole. itts all muscle, and it would have no idea what you were trying to do. Anyways im pretty sure if it kept on flailing, it could cause serious damage to the boat. (a hole) Its pretty reasonable to kill it. Besides people do crazy things when something this freaky happens...randomly. just sayyiinnn

      March 30, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bill

    Show me the way to go home....
    I'm tired and I wanna go to bed....

    March 30, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Andrew

    Maco sharks jump... Why is this news?

    March 30, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mario

    Nobody got hurt so that is good.

    March 30, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mike

    There go my plans to cross the Gulf in a canoe.

    March 30, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kevin

    Fish are just f***in' with us.

    March 30, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. BillyTheSquib

    I saw this mako on American Idol. Right between the black guy and the leggy lady. What a hog for the limelite.

    March 30, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dr. Dre

    It's Obama's fault.

    March 30, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darth Vadik, CA

      Well all problems come from two sources, it is either Bush's fault or Obama's fault...

      March 30, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • bushisanidiot

      Bush is the idiot.

      March 31, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • wsj

      As is Obama.

      April 1, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ula

    maybe they are trying to escape radioactive oceans

    March 30, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Osama

    First the birds fall out of the sky, and now the fish jump out of the water. It looks like my fatwa against Amerika is gaining followers.

    March 30, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. dee

    And let me guess– the sharks were then killed by boaters... but the article conveniently did not mention that part..

    March 30, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ken

    This is so utterly common, the only change is camera's on cellphones uploading it immediately.

    Yes I know what I am talking about I was a commercial fisherman for years, as well as sport fishing and diving. Fish jump, due to light refracting from the surface and/or unexpected fast movement of a boat (which they have no deep seated genetic traits to avoid), and what do you get? Fish in the boat, or rays or whatever.

    The people that comprise what we call the news media, having studied journalism so diligently when not partying at whatever liberal arts college they attended, seem completely unprepared to comprehend the other 99.9999999% of life not covered in class... OMG WOW ITS LIKE NATURE OMG!!!

    March 30, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ken

    Oh and if they didn't have a license for the species for the county they dock in they had better have thrown it back or it will be the most expensive day on the water they can imagine.

    March 30, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • David Houston, TX

      They had no license but were not fined because the shark jumped onboard they didn't pull it out according to local news in Houston.

      March 30, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
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