Parker King says a barracuda attack put him in the hospital. The 13-year-old Florida boy was fishing with his father last Sunday when a 5-foot barracuda apparently jumped out of the ocean and into their small fishing boat, attacking King and slashing him in the arm and chest.
According to a report from The Associated Press, the barracuda “came out of the water ‘like a torpedo’ and left a long, deep gash under his arm and across his chest. He was taken to Halifax Health Medical Center, where he underwent two surgeries to repair the damage. He's now sporting 27 staples and 17 stitches.”
King and his dad Irwin have one of the best fishing stories to share for years to come. The Port Orange, Florida father and son duo were out fishing for red snapper when they spotted the barracuda swimming near their boat. They decided to try to catch it – no need, after the 60 to 70 pound ray-finned fish grabbed the bait and then leaped out of the ocean and slashed open Parker’s chest and arm.
“He set the hook and the barracuda swam around the motor, then all I heard was ‘watch out,’” Parker said. The fish “shot up and launched into the boat. It came up like a torpedo out of the water. It nailed me.”
Parker was taken to Halifax Health Medical Center where he underwent two surgeries. The Creekside Middle School teen has nearly four dozen stitches and staples in his right arm and chest. Parker said the deep cuts and blood loss scared him. As did the fact that they were 18 miles out and had a long ride back to shore.
“I looked at Dad and said, ‘Dad, I’m gonna die,’” Parker recalled.
“No, you’re not. Calm down,” his father said in reply.
Irwin called Parker’s mother, Candie Conrey, who met them at the dock in New Smyrna Beach. Candie was taken aback at what she saw.
“I could see the whole towel was soaked with blood and his whole body was covered in blood,” she said. “The whole boat was covered in his blood.”
The barracuda incident “is definitely not going to stop me from fishing,” he said. “But I won’t fish for barracuda again.”
Ed Matheson, a research scientist with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said bringing a barracuda on board is similar to shark – even though they are out of the water, they will bite.
“It’s just like bringing a shark into the boat with you.” Matheson said. “If you get anywhere near their mouth, you’re going to get cut up. There’s a lot of bite force there in a fish that big. Most of them aren’t as severe as this one. I have heard of bad incidents [in Florida], but they’ve been few and far between.”