Monday, September 22, 2008

Sturgeon Collision Shocks Cops

Sturgeon have long been a part of Maine. The town of Gardiner celebrates Sturgeon Day on September 27th [Source], and the fish is the town's mascot. Eva8 writes on her Flickr site (where you can see a great photo of a golden sturgeon weathervane), "the city of Gardiner has adopted the sturgeon as it's symbol, because a long time ago, people used to catch huge sturgeon in the Kennebec River, and because of the removal of a dam, and a long process of unpolluting the river, we are hoping the sturgeon will come back."

According to Wikipedia, the sturgeon belongs to "one of the oldest families of bony fish in existence" and "are distinctive for their elongated bodies, lack of scales, and occasional great size: Sturgeons ranging from 7–12 feet (2-3½ m) in length are common, and some species grow up to 18 feet (5.5 m)." They are rascally fish, giant, armor-plated and strong. Witness a recent event on the Kennebec River! Video available at WCSH site.
Leaping Fish Takes Out Marine Patrol Boat

BRUNSWICK (NEWS CENTER) -- Friday morning, Marine Patrol Sergeant Paul Joyce and Officer Chris Hilton launched their patrol boat on the Kennebec River.

They routinely patrol the area to check on boat safety and compliance with fishing regulations. But this routine patrol turned into a bizarre emergency. As they passed through Fiddler's Reach, their day took a turn for the worse.

Sgt. Paul Joyce, of the Maine Marine Patrol, said, "We were going at a decent clip and that fish came right up here into the windshield and the windshield just exploded, just made an explosion noise, bam! It was unbelievable. Chris was sitting right there, he ducked in towards me, and I ducked away toward the port side of the boat."

A big fish had jumped out of the water and collided with their patrol boat.

"That fish had to be easily a four foot long sturgeon, they leap out of the water constantly, and he had at least an 8 to 10 inch girth on it."

Sturgeon are bottom feeders but often can be seen leaping through the air on that part of the Kennebec.

Christopher Hilton, a Marine Patrol Officer, remarked, "You watch them come out of the water all the time and some of them get some big air and good hangtime. He was just up in the air and we came through at the right time and when I saw him leap over and clear the bow the next thing I knew was he was going to hit the windshield."

Officer Hilton was at the wheel and took the brunt of the impact. Glass shards and fish scales showered them both. Hilton was taken to mid-coast hospital for minor cuts.

While they are laughing about the incident now, they both know that it could have been much worse.

The marine patrol officers had never heard of this happening before, but a commander in the Augusta office says while it is a rare occurrence, boaters should be aware of the dangers of leaping sturgeon.

Giant sturgeon make themselves known in rivers all over the place, knocking people unconscious and so on. Do they find this activity entertaining? One can only wonder. Northern Maine's legendary lake monster,Ponik, has been rumored to have as his secret real identity that of a great sturgeon.

Scribal Terror has a great post about the huge fish which mentions a description of them which Nathaniel Hawthorne recorded during his time in Maine in the early 1800s:
But while looking at the rushing and rippling stream, I saw a great fish, some six feet long and thick in proportion, suddenly emerge at whole length, turn a somerset, and then vanish again beneath the water. It was a glistening, yellowish brown, with its fins all spread, and looking very strange and startling darting so life-like from the black water, throwing itself fully into the bright sunshine, and then lost to sight and pursuit. (Augusta, Maine. July, 1837.)

For more on the fish, including photos, please read the full Scribal Terror post, which is very interesting: Source]

1 comment:

RG said...

Checking out Maine blogs and this is a nice one.

Drop in at the W bar E down in Texas sometime.

Adios, and watch out for those flying fish. ;-)