MIAMI (Reuters) - A barracuda jumped out of the water and bit a 45-year-old woman kayaker in the chest in the Florida Keys, causing injuries which required her evacuation by boat and helicopter to a Miami hospital, the U.S. Coast Guard said on Monday.
It said the incident, in which the woman suffered a suspected punctured lung and broken ribs, took place on Sunday evening near Big Pine Key where the victim and a companion were kayaking in shallow water.
The two told rescuers the fish was about 4 feet long and was previously seen skipping across the water. It knocked the woman out of the two-person kayak when it hit her in the chest, the Sun-Sentinel newspaper reported.
She climbed back into the kayak and her companion, unable to row her to safety, called for help on his mobile phone.
“She had a pretty bad chest wound,” the paper quoted one of the rescuers, Captain Kevin Freestone, owner of TowBoatU.S. in Big Pine Key and Cudjoe Key and a member of the Volunteer Fire Department in Big Pine Key. “She was conscious, and she was scared about what had happened to her.”
The U.S. Coast Guard station in Marathon launched a vessel, but because of the shallowness of the water it was a small boat deployed by TowBoatU.S., which assists vessels in distress, which was able to transport a paramedic to the injured woman and bring her to shore.
A helicopter took her to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami where she was listed as stable, the Coast Guard said.
Barracudas are sleek, swift predators with razor sharp teeth. Other cases of the fish leaping out of the water and biting fishermen and boaters have been reported in Florida.
Writing by Pascal Fletcher; editing by Jim Marshall