DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. (WKRG) – A lackluster day of fishing for an Alabama woman turned into an adventure for her whole family after a giant eagle ray jumped into their boat Saturday afternoon and sent her to the hospital.
“It hit the right side of the body and pretty much had to go to the emergency room,” said April Jones, describing the impact that left her with a shoulder sprain.
Her husband, Jeremy Jones, described the chaos that unfolded in seconds Saturday afternoon: “She starts screaming, I hear stuff breaking and flopping, my grandpa falls into me. I look back, this ray is laying in the back of the boat.”
After the shock of getting socked by a fish they believe to weigh 400 pounds, they changed course for the Sea Lab and got some help to get the eagle ray back into the water. The eagle ray made it back into the water safely but birthed four pups that didn’t survive.
What initially started as a scary encounter quickly turned into a sense of wonder as they tried to learn all they could about the creature.
“We have an extraordinary diversity of fishes here in the north-central Gulf of Mexico, and it’s a rare and exciting opportunity,” said Marcus Drymon with Mississippi State University. Drymon says the spotted eagle ray isn’t endangered but it’s rare for these waters.
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“When we got it out of the boat, I wasn’t as scared. It was kind of cool,” said Jones’ 8-year-old son, Gunner.