Leaping stingray swoops on pontoon boat

Published online: Apr 01, 2011 News Fran Golden - news.travel.aol.com
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An Illinois family vacationing in the Florida Keys got a big surprise when a stingray jumped onto their chartered pontoon boat. 

The spotted eagle ray leaped onto the 26-foot boat in a channel in Islamorada and struck Jenny Hausch, 39, in the chest, reports the Miami Herald.

The collision with the five-foot, 200-pound creature knocked Hausch to the deck, but the stingray was apparently equally stunned.

The boat's captain shouted for help and a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) patrol boat happened to be nearby.

Hausch managed to crawl out from under the ray and was not injured, which officer Aja Vickers of the FWC tells the Herald, is "shocking" given the size of the ray.

Bobby Dude, a spokesman for the FWC, says a similar leaping stingray collision in 2008 resulted in the death of a 55-year-old tourist from Michigan. He adds the two cases are the only ones he's heard about in 22 years.

Hausch was on the boat, operated by Two Chicks Charter, with her husband, David, and three young children. They were finishing an excursion of snorkeling and shell collecting when they spotted 15 to 20 leaping eagle rays in the channel - which is not unusual, especially during mating season.

The officers used a rope to drag the unexpected passenger back in the water and the ray swam away. But the Hausch family retained one of the creature's venomous barbs as a souvenir, the newspaper reports.

Read more at http://news.travel.aol.com/2011/03/31/stingray-tries-to-hitch-ride-on-boat-in-florida/

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