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vincentkneefel

Eagle ray kills woman in the Keys

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An extremely unfortunate event for both the woman and the eagle ray.

 

FWC: Woman Killed In Freak Eagle Ray Incident

MARATHON (CBS4) ― A woman has died in a freak accident in the Keys.

 

Jorge Pino, with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said a woman was on a boat with her family off Marathon when an Eagle Ray jumped out of the water next to the vessel Thursday morning. The animal reportedly struck the 55-year old woman who fell backward and suffered a severe head trauma.

 

Initial reports had indicated that the animal's sharp defensive barb, located near the base of its tail, had lodged in the woman's neck.

 

The woman, who was from Michigan, died before help could arrive.

 

Investigators say the victim, whose name has not been made public, was aboard a boat with here sister, father, and mother.

 

An eyewitness told cbs4.com that a child had been injured and was taken to a hospital, but that report has not been confirmed by investigators.

 

The Eagle Ray is common in the waters off South Florida and the Keys.

 

These rays can grow extremely large; up to 17 feet in length with a wingspan of up to 10 feet. They also have a long tail which is armed with sharp barb, it looks like a whip and may be as long as the body.

 

Eagle Rays live close to the coast in depths of 3 to 60 feet and in exceptional cases they are found as deep as 900 feet.

 

The Eagle Ray is most commonly seen along sandy beaches in very shallow waters. The ray's two wings sometimes break the surface and giving the impression of two sharks traveling together.

 

(© MMVIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

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Isn't sarcasm a bit inappropriate seeing how a person has just died, Gary?

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duly noted Drew. The irony drove me to post. I removed it. I take death a little bit lighter than most and view it as a phase of our existance.

Edited by ce4jesus

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Yes, I don't think this rare and "freaky" tragic event should be trivialized.

 

I have seen (and swam right next to) magnificent huge eagle rays in the keys but at about 7 foot max "wingspan" - I wouldn't doubt there are larger individuals, probably females.

 

They are known to jump from the water and this is a most unfortunate and tragic accident. It is also a strong possibility that the eagle ray was being pursued by a great hammerhead (and that caused it to "leap") as those sharks are around Florida in large numbers this time of year and they follow and prey upon tarpon and rays particularly.

 

Here is a more accurate press release of the event I just received, with more accurate data from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission:

 

For immediate release: March 20, 2008

Contact: Gabriella Ferraro, 772-215-9459 or Carol Pratt, 850-251-3970

 

Woman dies after spotted eagle ray jumps into boat

 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is investigating the death of Judy Kay Zagorski, 57, of Pigeon, Mich. The victim died on Thursday after a spotted eagle ray apparently jumped from the water and collided with her as she boated with family in the waters near Vaca Key in Marathon, Fla.

She was taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead, although the cause of death still is under investigation.

According to the FWC, eagle rays are not an aggressive species, but they do tend to leap from the water. Spotted eagle rays can have a wingspan of up to 10 feet and can weigh 500 pounds.

More information on spotted eagle rays is available at http://research.myfwc.com/features/view_article.asp?id=28370.

Edited by seagrant

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I saw the footage from CNN, the eagle ray was about 1.5 meters width lying on the front deck of the speedboat. I have seen a lot of jumping mobula's in Baja California, never realized this potential danger. What are the chances of being hit by a jumping eagle ray... Very tragic, unfortunately these kind of stories make a lot of folks paranoid about the ocean.

Edited by vincentkneefel

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Hi Vincent,

 

I posted some inappropriate satirical comments immediately after your post. So the comments were rightfully directed at me.

 

 

Speaking of hyperbole click on the video link on the left. The media is already using the monster label. :D

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8...;show_article=1

 

What are the chances of being hit by a jumping eagle ray

 

Obviously better than you'd think. Same thing happened to an 80 year old right after Irwins death. He was fishing with his grandson in Florida when an eagle ray jumped on board and stabbed him in the heart.

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Crazy but true story, it is all over the news here in South Florida as well as nationally. Eagle Ray (estimated at 80 lbs) lept from water and into a boat where it had a head-to-head collision with a 55 year old woman from Michigan who was fishing in the Fl. Keys for vacation. Both of them died instantly upon impact from head trauma. Unbelievable. At first medics looked to see if the animal dislodged its barb into the woman but no puncture wound was found. Simply, blunt trauma to the head killed both as the large ray lept out of the water a very high rate of speed.

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Crazy but true story, it is all over the news here in South Florida as well as nationally. Eagle Ray (estimated at 80 lbs) lept from water and into a boat where it had a head-to-head collision with a 55 year old woman from Michigan who was fishing in the Fl. Keys for vacation. Both of them died instantly upon impact from head trauma. Unbelievable. At first medics looked to see if the animal dislodged its barb into the woman but no puncture wound was found. Simply, blunt trauma to the head killed both as the large ray lept out of the water a very high rate of speed.

 

 

FWIW there was another thread earlier today

 

http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=23663&hl=

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I think the press should be ashamed for getting the facts wrong, they are supposed to report facts but one says Stingray then the next it's an Eagle Ray, then back to Stingray again?? come on get it right.

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195421121_bb6Wj-M-7.jpg

 

Just wanted to show this picture for illustration. This is a jumping Mobula (slightly smaller than a spotted Eagle ray) in La Paz, Baja California. Mobula's swim in big schools (sometimes 500+) and jump very often (researchers say it is for social behavior/fun). Eagle rays will often make somersaults, while Mobula's land flat on their belly. Anyway, I have never thought of the potential danger when I was out there...

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Yes, all this is a "freaky" accident - as said what are the odds?

 

I just came back from The Florida Aquarium where I was taking the 'DAN First Aid for Professional Divers' course (which BTW is an excellent course, includes all the CPR, 1st Aid, AED, O2 and hazardous marine life injuries all in one course now, yea!!)

 

Anyway I discussed the eagle ray incident with the instructor and he agreed with me, while eagle rays are known to "leap" (is it to remove parasites or chasing a food source?); anyway they are known to leap but he agreed with me that it was very likely a great hammerhead was on that ray - and probably a big one.......! There are lots of great hammers in the keys right now - it is just that people usually don't see them. We saw one overtake a big tarpon this time of year once and nail it while motoring out to a reef in the keys. If we had been a little closer the tarpon probably would have landed in our boat!

 

Very tragic for people trying to enjoy an Easter vacation - my hear goes out to the victim, relatives and those on the boat.

 

Carol

Edited by seagrant

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I think the press should be ashamed for getting the facts wrong, they are supposed to report facts but one says Stingray then the next it's an Eagle Ray, then back to Stingray again?? come on get it right.

 

Your best source of info is my quote from earlier today from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission - that will be factual, if sketchy....... There will be more data later but I'd only trust the official scientific sources for data right now.

 

Carol

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Here is the latest press release from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission :

For immediate release: March 21, 2008

Contact: Gabriella Ferraro, 772-215-9459 or Carol Pratt, 850-251-2212

 

Boater died from head trauma in collision with leaping eagle ray

Monroe County Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Hunter has determined Judy Kay Zagorski, 55, of Pigeon, Mich., died from blunt force-trauma to the head when she was struck by a spotted eagle ray. The male, 75- to 80-pound ray had leapt out of the water and into the path of the victim’s boat.

 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) investigated the mishap, which occurred March 20, at approximately 10 a.m. near Vaca Key in Marathon.

 

The victim was boating with her mother, father and sister when the collision occurred. They immediately called for help and took her to shore, but she did not survive. She is Florida’s sixth boating-related fatality of 2008.

 

According to the FWC, eagle rays are not aggressive toward humans, but they do tend to leap from the water. Spotted eagle rays can have a wingspan of up to 10 feet and can weigh 500 pounds. This particular animal had an estimated wingspan of 5 or 6 feet.

 

More information on spotted eagle rays is available at http://research.myfwc.com/features/view_article.asp?id=28370.

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I think the press should be ashamed for getting the facts wrong, they are supposed to report facts but one says Stingray then the next it's an Eagle Ray, then back to Stingray again?? come on get it right.

 

The media did get it right. Eagle Rays are stingrays. The Spotted Eagleray can sport from one to five stinging barbs and is the largest of the stingrays. Thus, stingray is not an incorrect appellation. To be more specific, the media might say Eagleray or even what kind of Eagleray killed the woman.

 

 

I do not know where the wingspan of 10 feet quoted here (Forum Article on Woman Killed by Ray) comes from as the largest recorded Spotted Eagleray landed was 8 feet across. An average adult will be 4 to 6 feet across. I would like to see an accredited research citation with verified source for the 10 foot wing span listed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. They do not seem to list one

 

 

(It should be noted that the stinging barbs are located at the base of the tail, not the tip of the tail, as stated in the video.)

Edited by Karl Callwood

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Anyway I discussed the eagle ray incident with the instructor and he agreed with me, while eagle rays are known to "leap" (is it to remove parasites or chasing a food source?); anyway they are known to leap but he agreed with me that it was very likely a great hammerhead was on that ray - and probably a big one.......!

 

I dive almost every day and frequently see Spotted Eaglerays. First off, you should always state what type of eagleray you are referring to as there are many species. The eagleray that killed the unfortunate woman is a Spotted Eagleray, the largest of the stingrays.

 

The Spotted Eagleray's leaping behavior is not typically related to chasing food. Their diet consists of clams, scallops and other mollusks as well as the occasional octopus, shrimp or squid. Sometimes sea urchins or bony fish like hinds will make the menu. Recently I videotaped a Spotted Eagleray feasting on mollusks attached to Black Mangrove tree roots in a shallow Mangrove Lagoon.

 

When I have observed them jumping it has been related to mating and birthing behavior. Females may jump to avoid attention from unwanted males and also probably to assist in labor as the impact with the waters surface may help dislodge their pups. Spotted Eaglerays have two mating cycles per year. In my region of the Caribbean (Virgin Islands) this is often in the Spring and Fall. Their gestation cycle is 8 to 9 months. I have witnessed them giving live birth in a Mangrove Lagoon. I suspect that habitat was chosen because the low to zero visibility foils the hunting behavior of the Silvertip and Hammerhead sharks as well as being an untenable brackish environment for them. These sharks will follow adult females in the ocean to gobble up their young immediately following birth. An adult Spotted Eagleray is a fight; the young are easier victims.

 

Still, little is known scientifically about these magnificent creatures. There are three distinct color variations in bark blue, black and brown. Some have black dots in the center of their white spots. Future genome typing and analysis may indeed see the Spotted Eagleray divided into more than one species

 

Edited by Karl Callwood

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