Beware Houndfish: They Stab People

Miami kayaker remains hospitalized

By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 19, 2010 4:02 PM CDT

(Newser) – Victims like Karri Larson are rare, but they are out there: kayakers and hikers speared in shallow waters by a leaping houndfish, the Miami Herald reports. The needlefish is 4 feet long and, true to its name, possesses a long, pointed snout. It also has the ability to jump out of the water, in order to avoid predators—or, in some cases, engage them. In Larson's case, experts think the needlefish felt threatened by her kayak paddles, leaped out of the water, and stabbed her through the back.

She suffered a collapsed lung and remains in stable but serious condition at a nearby hospital. "That long snout would be a reasonably good weapon, like an arrow, if it jumped out of the water,'' says a shark expert at the University of Florida. "They live on the surface. A lot of critters like to eat them, like sharks, barracudas or mackerel. They are a reasonable snack, so part of their escape strategy is to get out of the water."

A drawing of a Tylosurus crocodilus, or Hound Fish.
A drawing of a Tylosurus crocodilus, or Hound Fish.   (Wikimedia Commons)
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