Odd Encounter with an Eagle Ray

03/31/2011

Jenny Hausch was not expecting to have one of the strangest wildlife encounters on record when she went fishing with her family while vacationing in Florida.

As the family enjoyed their time in the outdoors, a 200-pound spotted eagle ray suddenly leapt out of the water and into the boat, landing right on top of Jenny.  The animal was so large and heavy, her family couldn't get it off of her.

Spotted Eagle Ray MaugiArt FLICKR
A spotted eagle ray in its natural underwater habitat.

Luckily, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission boat was nearby and heard the family's screaming and came to the rescue.  Miraculously, neigher Jenny or the ray seemed worse for wear after the four-minute encounter.

Rays sometimes jump out of the water to escape predators or during mating rituals, and they have been reported to land in boats.  They're generally not considered dangerous animals, as long as people avoid the venomous barbs in their tail (which the rays use to ward off predators). 

Jenny was lucky given that at full growth, a spotted eagle ray can weigh over 500 pounds and have wingspan of 10 feet.  If a ray that large had landed on her, or if in its panic it stabbed her with its barb, the story could have turned out very differently.  A woman was killed by an eagle ray in 2008 in a similar incident.

Here's a video about Jenny's encounter.

 

   

 

Photo by MaugiArt via Flickr Creative Commons.


David Mizejewski is a naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation. His goal is to inspire others to appreciate the wonders of nature. Meet David >
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