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Old Town man injured by sturgeon on Suwannee River

May 11, 2012

From Gainesville.com

An Old Town man was injured Friday when he collided with a sturgeon that had jumped out of the Suwannee River in front of his boat near Rock Bluff.
 
Christopher Jordan Marlo, 31, received non-life-threatening injuries, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigators.
 
Marlo was operating the 14-foot johnboat that belonged to his passenger, John Garrett Cobb, 37, of Cross City. They were just south of Rock Bluff near the County Road 340 bridge. The two had been fishing and were headed back to the Gornto Springs boat ramp, where they had launched at 7 a.m., according to FWC.
 
Investigators said the two were traveling about 10 to 15 mph. when, at about 10:30 a.m., a sturgeon jumped up in front of the vessel, striking Marlo.
 
Neither man saw the fish. However, Cobb reported he saw something splash off the right side of the boat and the boat turned hard to the right. He looked back to see Marlo slumped over the left side of the vessel. Cobb got Marlo back into the boat and went to the Rock Bluff boat ramp, according to FWC investigators.
 
Marlo was transported to Shands at the University of Florida in Gainesville by emergency medical personnel. The sturgeon strike was reported to the FWC by the Dixie County Sheriff's Office, and an investigation into the incident began.
 
"This is first sturgeon strike in 2012," said Maj. Roy Brown, regional commander of the FWC's North Central Region. "And that's one too many."
 
"We certainly don't want to scare anyone off the river," Brown explained.

The Suwannee is beautiful and we want folks to come out and enjoy their trip. We just want to remind boaters the sturgeon are back in the Suwannee and they are jumping."
 
In 2006, FWC officials began working on a public awareness campaign to alert boaters to the risks of jumping sturgeon.
 
"We have posted signs at each boat ramp along the Suwannee, explaining the risk of impacts with these fish, and we have just recently posted larger signs, warning of jumping sturgeon, along the river," Brown said. "Our officers increase their water patrol efforts during the summer months in a continued effort to educate boaters about boating safety and sturgeon."

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