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Posted by W von Papinešu on March 19, 2003 at 20:58:53:
FLORIDA TODAY (Melbourne) 17 March 03 Ocean anglers make bizarre discovery -- a rattlesnake
Port Canaveral: Luke Ference and his buddies couldn't believe what they were seeing during a fishing trip for cobia last week offshore Port Canaveral.
A 2 1/2-foot diamondback rattlesnake was lounging on the surface of the ocean only a few feet from their boat.
"Here we were looking for cobia about 3 miles out, and we see the snake. It was just sitting there, floating," said Ference, 18, a Merritt Island High School senior.
Scott Shefield and Chris Harvey, both of Rockledge, also were aboard the 27-foot Blackfin boat.
"It didn't run away from us, and it definitely was a diamondback," Ference said. "He looked fine. He had two small rattles."
Knowing they couldn't rescue the snake without chancing being bitten, Ference used a gaff to pull the snake onto the engine bracket on the transom of the boat. Then he killed it with the gaff.
"I doubt if that little snake could swim that far," Ference said. "I think someone had their boat at the dock for a long time, and the snake had gotten into the boat."
Does someone out there have a hair raising story about a rattlesnake slithering out from under the gunwales?
Two years ago in mid-March, charter guide Jay McGowen of Satellite Beach and his charter Mike Green had a similar encounter. They too were fishing for spring cobia 6 miles offshore Canaveral when they spotted a 4-foot diamondback swimming near large mats of seagrass.
McGowen took pictures, figuring no one would believe such a story.
McGowen also theorized that the snake had crawled into someone's boat during the winter months, only to be discovered when the owners got offshore.
Other bizarre sightings by offshore anglers have included alligators, which, have been swept out to sea by outgoing tidal currents at inlets like Port Canaveral and Sebastian Inlet. Several years ago, a 6-footer was seen swimming east about 6 miles outside Sebastian.
Only in Florida.