Woman injured by sturgeon on Suwannee River
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Media contact: Karen Parker, 386-758-0525
A woman was injured when a sturgeon crashed through her boat's
windshield and showered her with glass.
Erica Stevens (DOB 03/21/84) of Safety Harbor received minor
injuries, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) investigators.
On April 27, Stevens and her husband, Scott Stevens, who was
operating the boat, were on the Suwannee River north of the U.S. 19
Bridge in Gilchrist County, traveling at about 15 mph. At about 5
p.m., a 5-foot sturgeon jumped up in front of Stevens' vessel and
crashed through the boat's windshield, FWC officials said.
Erica Stevens was sitting behind the passenger windshield and
was hit by flying glass, sustaining cuts on her arms and legs.
According to investigators, it's not certain that the sturgeon ever
made contact with her during the incident.
Her husband took her to Shands Hospital in Gainesville. The
sturgeon strike was reported to FWC April 28, and an investigation
The sturgeon also struck the bimini-top support and the motor
cowling before coming to rest inside the vessel. The Stevens' 1973,
15-foot Lightning boat sustained approximately $2,300 in
Scott Stevens told investigators he threw the sturgeon back into
the river but thought it was dead.
"This is the first sturgeon strike in 2011," said Maj. Lee
Beach, law enforcement commander of the FWC's North Central Region.
"And that's one too many."
Beach explained, "We certainly don't want to scare anyone off
the river. The Suwannee is beautiful, and we want folks to come out
and enjoy their trip. We just want to remind boaters that the
sturgeon are back in the Suwannee, and they are jumping during this
time of year."
In 2006, FWC officials began working on a public-awareness
campaign, posting signs along the river to explain the risk of
impacts with jumping sturgeon.
What's the best course of action for avoiding a collision?
"We recommend boaters reduce their speed to reduce the risk of
impact and to give people more time to react if they do encounter a
jumping sturgeon," Beach said. "The FWC also recommends that
all boaters wear their life jackets."
Biologists are unsure why sturgeon jump.
can get quite big, exceeding 8 feet and 200 pounds.
State and federal laws protect sturgeon, just like bald eagles,
panthers and sea turtles. The Gulf sturgeon is listed as
threatened, and their harvest is prohibited.
To report sturgeon collisions, call 888-404-FWCC (3922).