73-Year-Old Woman Attacked By Sailfish During Fishing Trip Off Florida Coast

Clare Fitzgerald
Photo Credit: Ronald C. Modra / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Ronald C. Modra / Getty Images

A 73-year-old Maryland woman is recovering in hospital after being stabbed by the bill of a sailfish while out on a boat off the eastern coast of Florida. According to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office, the 100-pound fish leaped into the vessel while the woman’s companions were trying to reel it in.

Sailfish leaping out of the water
Photo Credit: Ronald C. Modra / Getty Images

The woman, who has been identified as Katherine Perkins, was standing next to the boat’s center console while her companions, Louis Toth and Dominic Bellezza, were fishing some two miles offshore in the St. Lucie Inlet, near Stuart, Florida.

As Toth and Bellezza began to reel the fish in, the pair noticed it charge the boat, before jumping out of the water and striking Perkins in the groin with its bill. Both fishermen applied pressure to the wound and the woman was airlifted to HCA Florida Lawnwood Hospital, where she’s said to be in good condition.

Speaking with local authorities, Perkins said the attack happened so fast that she didn’t have time to react.

Sailfish leaping out of the water
Photo Credit: Ronald C. Modra / Getty Images

Sailfish resemble swordfish and marlin with their extended, pointed bills, and can grow up to 1.5 meters within a single year. They are considered one of the fastest fish species in the world, reaching speeds of between 10 and 15 meters per second when hunting prey.

The species is named for the fin on its back, which is known as the “sail.” It’s typically folded down, unless the sailfish is attacking prey. When erect, the sail is shown to reduce sideways oscillations of the head, which makes the fish’s bill less detectable. This allows it to attack not just small foraging fish, but squid, as well.

Sailfish being pulled out of the water by a fishing line
Photo Credit: Ronald C. Modra / Getty Images

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Currently, the sailfish is classified as a vulnerable species. This means it’s at threat of extinction, unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction are improved or rectified.


Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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