Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Keys fish attack: Fish punctures lung of woman kayaking in Keys

Leaping fish punctures lung of woman kayaking in KeysA marine mystery unfolded in the Florida Keys on Sunday, when something leapt from the water, punctured the lung of a woman in a kayak and returned to the ocean.

Karri Larson, 46, of Cudjoe Key, was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where she was listed Monday afternoon in serious but stable condition in the intensive care unit.

It's unclear what attacked her. Several species are capable of leaping from the water, but only a few can inflict that sort of injury. Unlike other incidents of this sort, the creature didn't remain in the boat to be identified but disappeared over the side.

The Coast Guard issued a news release blaming her injury on a barracuda. But the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission disagreed. FWC Officer Robert Dube said, "It was definitely not a barracuda. She was struck by some species from the water. Nobody saw it. We can only speculate at this time."

Among the possibilities, experts say, is the houndfish, a species that has been known on rare occasion to leap out of the water and injure people. Although the houndfish lacks the barracuda's sinister appearance, it has a needle-like snout that can penetrate human flesh.

"It sounds like a houndfish," said Jason Schratwieser, conservation director of the International Game Fish Association. "Those things have been known to jump out and impale people."

The kayakers were on a "real nice Sunday afternoon kayak ride," paddling past pristine wilderness near Big Pine Key, said Capt. Kevin Freestone, owner of TowBoatU.S. in Big Pine Key and Cudjoe Key and a member of the Big Pine Key Volunteer Fire Department.

They then saw "quite a big fish that was skipping across the water," Freestone said. "Lo and behold, it went and hit her. Crazy." ...

via Keys fish attack: Fish punctures lung of woman kayaking in Keys - southflorida.com.

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