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Flying stingray stabs Florida man

One-foot barb in chest after boat attack

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A Florida man is in a critical condition after a 5ft-wide, 30lb stingray "jumped onto his boat and stabbed him in the chest", AP reports.

The attack on 81-year-old James Bertakis, of Lighthouse Point, occured on Wednesday when he was boating with his granddaughter and her friend. The assault left Berkatis with a foot-long barb in his chest, and his granddaughter was obliged to guide the vessel back to his home where they called for medical assistance.

Although the victim was conscious when paramedics arrived, he was in a pretty bad way. Surgeons subsequently removed some of the barb - which had caused a closed chest wound and collapsed lung - but couldn't find the rest of it and "fear it may have migrated". Accordingly, Berkatis may now face open-heart surgery.

Lighthouse Point acting fire Chief David Donzella said: "It was a freak accident. It's very odd that the thing jumped out of the water and stung him. We still can't believe it."

The stingray died on the boat and was bagged and kept on ice for later recovery by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officers. University of Miami marine biology professor Ellen Pikitch told AP: "Something like this is really, really extraordinarily rare. I've never heard any reports of a stingray attacking a person. Even when they are under duress, they don't usually attack."

Perhaps not, but stingrays' deadly capabilities are now well known following the death of Aussie wildlife daredevil Steve Irwin last month. He too took a barb to the chest while filming a bull ray off the coast of Queensland, and quickly succumbed to the injury. ®

Bootnote

Thanks to Robert Neve for the heads-up.

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