Turns out it may not have been a barracuda.
A woman kayaking with a friend in the Florida Keys was hurt by a fish that leapt out of the water and punctured her lung.
Karri Larson, 45, of Cudjoe Key, was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital. The Coast Guard put out a news release announcing that she had been injured by a barracuda.
But Officer Robert Dube, of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said the initial report was wrong and that there's no reason to think a barracuda was involved.
"It was definitely not a barracuda," he said. "She was struck by some species from the water. Nobody saw it. We can only speculate at this time."
Among the possibilities, he said, was the houndfish, a needle-nosed species that has been known to leap out the water and impale people.
The kayakers were "going for a real nice Sunday afternoon kayak ride" and traveling past pristine wilderness, said Capt. Kevin Freestone, owner of TowBoatU.S. in Big Pine Key and Cudjoe Key and a member of the Volunteer Fire Department in Big Pine Key. They then saw "quite a big fish that was skipping across the water," Freestone said. "Lo and behold, it went and hit her. Crazy."
The fish, which the kayakers estimated was about 48 inches long, knocked the woman from their two-person watercraft, but she climbed back in, Freestone said.
The man, unable to row to shore fearing it would further harm the woman, phoned for help.
Freestone and two other people -- Big Pine Fire Rescue's assistant chief and a paramedic from Monroe County Fire Rescue -- took a small boat in search of them, he said.
Freestone figured his vessel would get stuck in shallow water, only a foot deep in some areas, he said. But the vessel reached the kayakers so that a paramedic could help the woman. A second TowBoatU.S. vessel then was able to reach everyone and take them to safety.
The woman was taken to Dolphin Marina, and then taken by helicopter to Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Copyright © 2010, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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