Summertime. Fish jumping. That's Trouble.

BRANFORD, Fla. — “Lots of artillery out there,” an old man hollered from the safety of the Suwannee River’s edge, and he was right. The sturgeon were jumping high and fast, twisting their armored girth in midair and returning to the depths with a stunning splash.

On the water, there was reason to be anxious. Florida’s season of “sturgeon strikes” — law enforcement’s term for collisions between the state’s largest freshwater fish and hapless boaters — was already well under way.

It may seem bizarre, but it is no joke. Leaping sturgeon have injured three people on the Suwannee this year, including a woman on a Jet Ski and a girl whose leg was shattered when one of the giant fish jumped aboard her boat. Eight others were hit last year, and with traffic growing on the storied river, sturgeon are joining alligators and hurricanes on the list of things to dread in Florida.

“These injuries are very impressive,” said Dr. Lawrence Lottenberg, director of trauma surgery at the University of Florida College of Medicine in nearby Gainesville. “You’ve got people sitting on the front of an open boat, and the boat is going 20, 30, 40 miles per hour.The fish jumps up and usually slaps these people right across their face and upper chest. Almost every one of them universally has been knocked unconscious. If you’re not wearing a life jacket, you’re going to fall in the water and potentially drown...”


Hmmm ... wait, an idea is coming to me, how this sort of accident can be prevented... they could slow down and ... nahhh...

Sturgeon have been around since the dinosaur age, and they look it. They have long, flat snouts and hefty bodies covered in sharp, bony plates. Gulf sturgeon can grow up to eight feet long and weigh 200 pounds, but even the smaller ones can inflict serious harm. In recent years, injuries have included a broken pelvis, a fractured arm and a slashed throat...

Wildlife officials have posted signs warning boaters to slow down. Leah Daniel, a friend of Ms. Carter, said there was only one other precaution to take: “Pray...”

Fear is not rampant on the gentle river, lined with ancient cypress trees and moss-draped live oaks, but curiosity is. No one knows for sure why sturgeon jump.

... would like to see speed limits on sections of river where sturgeon congregate. The state has imposed such limits along miles of “manatee protection zones,” but with fierce objections from boaters who say the restriction spoils their fun.

Yeah, that's what I thought...

Some irate boaters have called the wildlife commission and railed against sturgeon, Ms. Parker said, even asking the state to “kill all of them so people can enjoy the river...”

Jim Tomey, sitting by the riverbank, said watching for sturgeon was his summer ritual. As he spoke, one burst out of the water and returned with a mighty smack.

“I love to come down here,” Mr. Tomey said, “and sit and watch them fish jump.”


So what's the problem? The sturgeon have survived since prehistoric times. The newbies -- two legged hairless walking assholes -- haven't.

It's called natural selection and the people who refuse to slow down ... well, maybe more of them should study Evolution -- might give them a better chance to survive.

No, no no -- would interfere with their FUN.
Maybe they could learn to have fun the way Jim Tomey does.

The sturgeon really can't learn to NOT jump.

If the boaters can't learn to go slow, well, in the words of a catch phrase used in a science fiction novel --

"Think of it as evolution in action."*


Let's put it this way: Assholes are NOT an endangered species.


* Oath of Fealty by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Niven had used the phrase in other novels, but this was the one from which it caught on.


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