KENNEBEC RIVER (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- The Atlantic sturgeon is an endangered fish that is making a comeback in Maine. Over the last 20 years, people have seen fish of ever-increasing size leaping into the air along several Maine rivers, especially the Kennebec.
On the Fourth of July, John Ware was piloting a family group down the Kennebec in a party boat. Suddenly, a five and a half foot sturgeon leaped into the air and smack into Christine Wallace who was sitting in the front of the boat.
"It hit me in the back of the head and then flipped over me and landed on Patty," she told NEWS CENTER Maine.
Patty Demers is Christine's sister-in-law.
"I felt something prehistoric...and I was like freaking out. I think I went like that and ran that way."
John and his brother-in-law Gui Demers were tasked with the responsibility of lifting the 185-pound fish out of the boat.
Fossilized remains of Atlantic sturgeon go back 180 million years. Their skeletons are made of cartilage, not bone. The fish don't have scales, but bony plates known as scutes.
They are born in rivers and remain until they reach about five feet. They then swim up river to spawn before making a migration, somewhat similar to Atlantic salmon.
Scientists do not know why sturgeon leap into the air. Increasingly, they believe it is a form of communication.
People have humorously suggested that a sturgeon will jump into someone's boat. It has finally happened on the Kennebec.