Pregnant Eagle Ray With Suckerfish Attached Leaps Onto Boat and Gives Birth

A large spotted eagle ray with a suckerfish attached leapt onto a fishing boat and gave birth to four pups in front a shocked family onboard.

Angler April Jones had been fishing off the coast of Alabama with her husband and son when the 5 foot, 400 pound spotted eagle ray leapt aboard.

Spotted stingrays can measure, on average, 11 feet. They are one of the largest eagle ray species in the ocean. The species is near threatened, and a rare occurrence in Alabama waters. It is not the first time one has been observed flying out of the ocean—the species may do this to escape a predator.

Jones said in a Facebook post that she spotted a remora attached to its belly when it jumped.

Remora, also known as suckerfish, have a sucker-like organ they use to attach themselves to larger animals. They do this to hitchhike around the ocean, causing no harm to the animal they are attached to. Why the eagle ray jumped on the boat is unclear, although Jones suggested it may have been trying to get the suckerfish off.

Jones told AL.com: "We were both in the wrong place at the wrong time ... I thought we hit a wave. Water came in, I felt something hit me. I told my husband I must have blacked out for a second, because I didn't know what was going on, anything like that, and I hear banging and clanging in the back of the boat.

"My son was screaming, my husband was like, 'What is that?' His grandfather was in the back with him. They were freaking out, wondering what it was. The three of them thought it was a shark, I didn't know what it was, I just saw a blob."

The sting ray began thrashing around in the boat, trying to get back into the water. The huge animal was too heavy to lift, and it was becoming increasingly stressed, AL reported.

"This thing was beautiful but 400 pounds jumping in a boat and hitting you doesn't feel good...and absolutely scary," Jones said in a Facebook post.

Jones' husband, who was driving the boat, eventually managed to steer it to shore. Jones rushed to find help; however, observers to the incident had already managed to ease the sting ray back into the water, AL reported.

However when bystanders moved the ray, they discovered four pups that the stingray stress-birthed during the ordeal.

"We are devastated the babies did not survive but there was nothing we could have done," Jones said in a Facebook post.

The mother stingray managed to swim away safely.

"We do not know the exact size or weight as the pictures don't do justice for either. Since it took multiple men to get her out they estimated her being about that weight. She was most likely over 5 foot when fully flat," Jones said in the post.

"For now I have a shoulder strain and sore collar bone, I was told if not better in a few days see a doctor for possible further injuries. No one knows what they would have truly done unless they were in this situation, we did the best we could to keep the mama alive until we could get help."

The boat was also torn up after the incident. Jones said the bimini top was broken and the power poles stopped working.