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A sailfish leaped out of the sea and stabbed a woman in the groin

Sailfish can weigh up to 200 pounds and swim almost 70 mph, making them one of the fastest marine animals, according to the Ocean Conservancy. (iStock)

A Maryland woman was stabbed in the groin by a sailfish that jumped out of the water while her two companions were fishing off the coast of Florida, police said.

Katherine Perkins, 73, of Arnold, Md., was airlifted to a hospital after the boat returned to shore in Stuart, Fla., on Tuesday, according to an incident report from the Martin County Sheriff’s Office.

Perkins was on the boat with Louis Toth, 75, and Dominic Bellezza, 77, when Toth hooked the sailfish, which the two men estimated weighed 100 pounds, the report said. As Toth tried to reel it in, it “began to charge at the boat” and leaped out of the water, stabbing Perkins in the groin as she stood next to the boat’s center console.

According to police, Toth and Bellezza “immediately put pressure on the wound” and called for help as they returned to shore. Reached by phone, Toth declined to be interviewed.

Perkins told the responding officer that “the incident occurred so fast she did not have time to react,” police said.

Regarded as the fastest fish in the ocean by some scientists, sailfish can swim up to 68 mph and grow to 11 feet long, according to the Ocean Conservancy. They are members of the marlin family and named for their large dorsal fin, known as a sail. Their spearlike upper bills are typically used to attack prey such as sardines and squid.

In Florida, the sailfish is the state saltwater fish, popular among anglers who enjoy the fight of reeling them in. They are usually released after a catch, though taking one sailfish that is at least 63 inches is permitted per day, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The town of Stuart, where Perkins was stabbed, has proclaimed itself the “sailfish capital of the world” since 1957, according to Treasure Coast Newspapers, and a 19-foot sailfish statue is located downtown.

The newspaper reported that during the annual Pelican Yacht Club Invitational Billfish Tournament in 2019, fishermen caught and released a record 969 sailfish in four days.