ABCâ€™s Jeffrey Kofman traveled to the fabled Suwannee River in North Florida to find out why the giant sturgeon are jumping and boaters are getting seriously injured. It was an exotic assignment, but tougher than you might imagine.
Sometimes I tell people that what we put on air for viewers to see is â€˜life without the boring parts.â€™ We do a lot of waiting to capture on video the moments that illustrate a story. What youâ€™ll see on air for this story might be better characterized as â€˜life without the frustrating parts.â€™ (At left, ABC cameraman Al Durruthy as he waits patiently for a sturgeon to jump in front of his lens.)
We had heard that there was a bizarre story unfolding on the Suwannee involving collisions between recreational boaters and jumping sturgeonâ€¦ fish that can be eight feet long and weigh 300 pounds. As we arrived on the river the fish did not disappoint. They were jumping in every direction.
Ace cameraman Al Durruthy and his Betacam were with us to capture this curious event. It was not easy. The fish were jumping everywhere but where Al pointed his camera. (At right, a Gulf Strugeon in the air.)
â€œWow!â€? Iâ€™d exclaim as huge sturgeon bounded into the air 20 feet from our boat. â€œDid you get that?â€?
â€œNoooo,â€? was the sullen response from Al, â€œit was just outside the camera frame.â€?
â€œHow â€˜bout those?â€?
Al was beginning to look dejected.
We doubled the odds by giving soundman Dan Hagen the smaller DV camera. As tourists on a pontoon boat passed next to us a huge sturgeon jumped.
â€œGot it!â€? yelled Dan excitedly.
Al looked shattered.
On a hot steamy Florida summer day, it took several hours and a lot of videotape and a lot of patience, but eventually Al got a series of terrific shots that youâ€™ll see in our story.
There were moments though, when I thought I could hear the sturgeon laughing at us from the below the waterâ€™s surface.
Beware of Jumping Sturgeon!Check out more of their pictures in a slideshow here.