A 100-pound sailfish launched itself from the ocean and stabbed a 73-year-old woman from Maryland in the groin while she fished off the Florida coast with her two companions.
The Martin County Sherriff’s Office reported authorities airlifted Katherine Perkins to a hospital after the fish leaped out of the water and attacked her as her companions were trying to reel it in.
Louis Toth, 75, who hooked the sailfish, said it “began to charge at the boat” after he and Dominic Bellezza, 77, tried to finish the catch, the Washington Post reported.
Perkins told authorities that “the incident occurred so fast she did not have time to react.”
Authorities said Tooth and Bellezza “immediately put pressure” on Perkins’ wound and called for help as they returned to shore in Stuart, Florida. Authorities transported Perkins to HCA Florida Lawnwood Hospital.
The town of Stuart has long proclaimed itself the “sailfish capital of the world” since 1957.
Almost twenty years ago, Stuart officials installed the Stuart Sailfish, a 19-foot tall bronze display in the downtown area.
“In the 1940s and ’50s, this was as prolific a spot for sailfish as there was in the world,” Captain V.J. Bell told Marlin. “And we still have days here that’ll rival fishing anywhere, with stretches where you might catch double digits of sailfish for days.”
Oceana reports the largest sailfish ever caught stretched 11.2 feet long and weighed 220.5 pounds.
National Geographic reports sailfish rank as the fastest fish in the ocean, reaching speeds of 68 miles per hour.
“Their large size and spirited fight make them a favorite among trophy fishers,” the magazine’s website reads.
The Ocean Conservancy said sailfish have pronounced bills and can weigh up to 200 pounds, and measure anywhere from six to 11 feet in length. The sea creature gets its name from its “massive sail-like dorsal fin,” which resembles a ship’s sail.
Florida has also declared the sailfish as the state’s saltwater fish.
An update on Perkins’ condition has not been released yet.