A family got the shock of their lives while on a fishing trip last week after a rare spotted eagle ray suddenly jumped into their boat, before giving birth to four pups.
April Jones was on the water with her son, husband and father-in-law off the coast of Alabama in the US on Friday but they weren't expecting to land a huge 180kg sea animal.
Sharing incredible photos on Facebook, Ms Jones explained they were just about to pack up and move locations when suddenly they felt a thud.
"I felt something hit me," she told Fox News. "And then I see this big blob flopping around in the back of the boat."
Her husband Jeremy Jones told media he was unaware of what had happened, but he heard his wife screaming before he turned around.
"I hear stuff breaking and flopping, my grandpa falls into me. I look back, this ray is laying in the back of the boat," he told US news site WSPA.
Boat begins to sink due to huge 180kg animal
Due to the sheer size of the animal, they struggled to put her back in the water so they desperately made some calls to find out what to do.
They estimated to eagle ray to weigh up to 180kg (400 pounds) and she was "most likely over 5ft (1.5 meters) when fully flat," Ms Jones wrote on Facebook.
A new problem quickly arose when their boat began to sink under the weight of the animal.
The boat was filling with water so they decided to head back to shore, Ms Jones said.
In the meantime, they tried to keep the ray alive for the 20-minute trip by splashing water on her consistently.
When they pulled into the closest boat ramp, by luck there was an aquarium and marine research centre – Dauphin Island Sea Lab.
"I ran into the lab to see if anyone could help get her out. In the meantime, some people had come to the boat and helped her get out," she told Fox News.
Incredible discovery after animal gives birth
Ms Jones said it took "four grown men" to help lift her from the boat, but that's when they made an astonishing discovery.
The mama ray had given birth to four pups right there on the boat, but unfortunately, none of them survived.
It's not known if they were stillborn or if they died during the ordeal.
According to Dauphin Island Sea Lab, rays can suddenly give birth if they encounter a stressful situation.
"It's not uncommon for wild animals to release their young when they feel their life is in danger," curator of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab Brian Jones told Fox.
"We think the reason she was jumping is due to a remora — or suckerfish— being stuck to her belly since it was also in the boat," Ms Jones revealed.
If the ray had landed back in the water the suckerfish would’ve fallen off. But it just so happened to land on Ms Jones inside the boat instead.
Ms Jones said they were "devastated" that the babies did not survive, but "there was nothing we could have done".
The babies were donated to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab for education purposes.
Woman injured after 'scary' ordeal
The incredible incident left Ms Jones with a shoulder strain and sore collar bone after "half of her body hit half of mine".
She also spent the night in the emergency room for checkups.
"No one knows what they would have truly done unless they were in this situation, we did the best we could to keep the mama alive until we could get help," she said.
Ms Jones said that while it was "beautiful" to see the animal up close, how it unfolded was "absolutely scary".
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