Rare spotted eagle ray jumps on boat at fishing derby; Give birth on deck


The rare spotted eagle ray jumped into the Jones family boat during the Alabama Fishing Rodeo. Photos: April Jones/Facebook

Spotted eagle rays are fairly rare to see in the wild, When an Alabama family attended the 2022 Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo, they certainly didn’t expect one to come flying into their boat. But that wasn’t the strangest thing – the ray ended up giving birth on the deck.

The ray decided to take its trip on the Jones family boat off Dauphin Island, Alabama. April Jones, her son, husband and father-in-law were in the boat when the 400-pounder jumped in. April Jones stood in his way, but luckily she escaped without serious injury.

“We competed in the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo,” Jones said Fox News Digital. “We fished off the coast of Sand Island Lighthouse on Friday and I didn’t catch anything – but my husband, my husband’s father and my son all did.”

Since Jones didn’t catch anything, they decided to pack up and go to another location. “As we drove away,” Jones continued, “there was a hard hit and a splash of water. I felt something hit me and then I see this big lump flapping around the back of the boat.”

Because the ray weighed about 400 pounds, she was unable to get off the boat. The family tried to help her, but she was just too heavy to lift over the edge.

“We made some calls for help to try to get it out,” Jones explained, “but it was so heavy that it weighed down the boat too, and we got water in the back of the boat.”

The family made the wise decision to return to shore as soon as possible. It took almost 20 minutes and the family wanted to make sure the ray didn’t die. On the way back, they took turns dousing them with water, and when they made it back to shore, they were able to find some people who put them back in the water.

Then they noticed that she had given birth to four baby rays. “We found out that she had given birth to four babies,” Jones said. “We had no idea when she did it. They didn’t move.”

Spotted eagle ray babies

When the babies were determined to be dead, they were donated to the Alabama Sea Lab. Photo: April Jones/Facebook

The Sea Lab happened to be within sight of their dock, so the staff came out to check it out. They determined the babies were not alive, so they were donated for research. Sea Lab said they would use them “to show kids and tell the story about it [the] Mom – and how rare it was to see an eagle ray.”

Pregnant rays are known to give birth under stress. It’s likely that the ray jumped out of the water because a remora got attached to her and they will let go when a ray exits the water. The fact that the ray accidentally landed in the boat was pure bad luck.


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