There are maybe two notable cultural references to flying fish: World 7-3 in "Super Mario Bros." and that one scene in "Life Of Pi." It's scarce enough to make you wonder if flying fish actually exist.
But the rowing team at Washington University in St. Louis learned firsthand that these things are real when they got bombarded by a school of them (or is it a swarm if they're flying?) during a recent morning practice.
The freshman men's crew team was out on Creve Coeur Lake in Missouri last Friday (April 10) when dozens of Asian carp surrounded the boat and began darting out of the water and jumping into the rowers, like some coordinated aerial blitz. The guys eventually just stopped rowing as the Discovery Channel-worthy spectacle played out:
When everything subsided, there were some scales and a lingering stench left behind in the boat. But this wasn't a battle of man vs. nature. A fishing expert told the BBC that the carp behave like this as an escape mechanism. The movement of the boat and oars probably triggered the fight or flight reaction, leading to a mass exodus of fish going airborne to escape perceived underwater danger.
Still, these things can weigh up to 100 pounds, so even though it's not an attack, the Wash U crew team may want to invest in helmets if they plan to keep hitting up that same lake.