A Safety Harbor woman became the first person injured by a jumping sturgeon this year when a 5-foot fish crashed through her boat's windshield.
Erica Stevens, 27, was hit by shattered glass and suffered cuts to her arms and legs April 27 while boating on the Suwannee River north of the U.S. 19 Bridge in Gilchrist County, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigators. She was treated for minor injuries at a hospital in Gainesville.
"This is the first sturgeon strike in 2011," said Maj. Lee Beach, law enforcement commander of the FWC's North Central Region. "And that's one too many."
Stevens, in the passengers seat, and her husband, Scott Stevens, who was driving, were going about 15 mph when the fish went through the windshield, struck a bimini-top support and the motor cowling. The boat sustained about $2,300 in damage, and Scott Stevens told investigators he threw the fish back into the river.
Biologists are unsure why sturgeon, which can grow to 8 feet in length and 200 pounds, jump. FWC officials recommend boaters reduce speed and wear life jackets. To report sturgeon collisions, call toll-free 1-888-404-3922.
* * *
Lengthy tarpon event nears start
The Suncoast Tarpon Roundup, a summer tradition, kicks off this year with a captains' meeting at Fish Tales in downtown St. Petersburg at 7 tonight. Fishing in the all-release event actually begins May 20 and runs for 10 weekends (Fridays at 5 p.m. until Sunday at midnight). DNA samples are used to verify a released tarpon and will be used by the FWC research team. For information, go to suncoasttarponroundup.org.
* * *
Little Bayou park seeks plant help
The Pinellas chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society needs volunteers to help restore the Little Bayou Wilderness Park in St. Petersburg from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. Volunteers will plant trees, remove non-native plants, mulch, identify plants and remove debris. Bring a spade shovel, gloves, hat, sunscreen, sturdy shoes and long pants.
* * *
All ahead full for 6 miles
The Salt Springs Alliance is holding its annual Kayak Race and Fun Paddle at 10 a.m. Saturday as part of the 2011 Cotee River Seafood Festival. The paddling event runs approximately 6 miles, from Werner-Boyce Salt Spring State Park in Port Richey to Sims Park. Registration fees are $15 for a single and $25 for tandem. Race awards will be presented for these categories: kayaks 15 feet and under, kayaks over 15 feet, and for tandem kayaks.