News Releases

FWC officers safely remove eagle ray from charter boat

News Release

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Media contact: Officer Robert Dube, 305-684-8703

A tourist in the Florida Keys has an incredible story to share after a close encounter with a spotted eagle ray. While on routine patrol March 25 in Whale Harbor Channel, officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) passed an eco-tour charter boat in which passengers were taking photos of a spotted eagle ray in the water.

Moments later, the officers heard a commotion coming from the boat. They headed toward it and realized that the approximately 200-pound ray had leaped from the water and landed in the boat, hitting a female passenger in the chest. The woman was not injured, but the ray was thrashing violently in the bow area.

The officers boarded the boat, were able to return the ray safely to the water, and watched it swim away.

"It was an incredible experience; we are really happy that no one was hurt and the eagle ray survived," said Officer Aja Vickers, one of the two officers at the scene. "We are glad we were nearby and could provide a timely response."

Spotted eagle rays are commonly found in shallow inshore waters. They can have a wingspan of up to 10 feet and weigh as much as 500 pounds. They are protected in state waters. For more information on spotted eagle rays, visit and click on "Saltwater."

FWC Facts:
Airboats must be equipped with a mast or flagpole displaying a flag that is at least 10 feet above the lowest part of the boat.

Learn More at AskFWC