A Houston man was forced to withdraw from a kayak race in Kansas City after being slapped in the face by an airborne 30-pound silver carp, The Columbia Missourian reported Thursday.
Brad Pennington, a 43-year-old lawyer, nearly capsized due to the impact — and initially thought someone had thrown a brick from the shore at the Missouri River 340 event Tuesday.
“My first thought was, ‘What hit me?’” Pennington said. “The second thing was that I couldn’t believe I didn’t capsize with a boat like I had.”
An accomplished river racer, Pennington was paddling an Olympic-style kayak that measured 17 feet long and just 12 inches wide at its widest point.
A spill into the water could have meant real danger because the river's depth was approaching its extreme for this time of the year.
“I could have been swimming for miles,” Pennington said. “I’m relieved to get hit by something like that and stay upright.
“I just went down the river laughing afterwards,” he added. “I got face-slapped by a flying fish.”
Before long, though, Pennington was forced to withdraw from the 340-mile race because of a "pounding, pounding headache that kept getting worse."
A check for a concussion came back negative.
Silver carp have become a genuine problem in the Missouri River, injuring fishermen, water skiers and other recreational boaters, according to the newspaper.
The species was brought to the U.S. from Asia in the 1970s to control algae and plankton. Now the silver carp is leaping out of the Missouri River and causing injuries such as broken noses and jaws and threatening the food supply for native fish.
“The silver carp jump in crazy ways,” said Duane Chapman of the Columbia Environmental Research Center.
“Their sides have rough parts on their pectoral fins that can cut a person’s face and their heads are hard and can cause serious injury.”