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Woman Seriously Injured in Barracuda Attack

July 12, 1993

MIAMI (AP) _ Barracudas generally don’t attack people unless provoked. But don’t tell that to Nadine Cloer, who received nearly 200 stitches after an 8-foot barracuda leaped into a houseboat and bit her hand and leg.

″I saw him come out of the water like a bullet,″ the Tampa-area woman said from her Key Largo hospital bed Sunday. ″It was like a torpedo right out of the water. It looked like it was diving straight for me.″

Family members rushed to help Cloer after the fish lunged at her Saturday off the Florida Keys. They pushed it overboard with poles.

″When I arrived she was in a pool of blood with everyone trying to stop the bleeding,″ said Capt. Mitch Schacter of Sea Tow Marine Services, who responded to the distress call.

Cloer, 46, said she had to have tendons replaced and skin grafts to cover the wounds. She is able to hobble around a little and hoped to be released today.

Cloer’s doctor was unavailable, but nursing supervisor Greg Vignone at Mariner’s Hospital said he saw the wounds.

″It was definitely a fish bite,″ he said.

Barracudas, long, thin predators with razor-sharp teeth, do not usually attack unless speared or provoked by divers or snorkelers.

Cloer, a school bus driver, was spending the weekend in a rented houseboat fishing with her husband, two sisters and a brother-in-law.

She said her brother-in-law hooked a 5-foot barracuda and she saw it pass under the boat. She went inside the cabin to get a video camera and as she was walking out the door, a much larger one cleared the deck and lunged at her.

″I still can’t believe the force that it hit me with,″ she said. ″It was unreal.″

The cabin of the 40-foot vessel is set back about 8 feet from the edge. Family members say the fish jumped some 12 to 15 feet. The force knocked Cloer back into the cabin with the fish on top of her.

″I don’t have any idea why it attacked me,″ she said. ″It is possible the bigger one could have been chasing the one that my brother-in-law had on the line.″

Cloer’s doctor told her the fish came within his thumb’s width of severing an artery in her pelvis, which almost certainly would have killed her.

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