Kamikaze carp KOs kayaker

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Competitive canoeist Brad Pennington was amongst the favourites for the 'Missouri River 340' race but little did he realise that just below the rivers surface lurked 15kg of muscular fish poised to make a dramatic intervention to his day.

Pennington, a 43 year old lawyer, was paddling an Olympic style kayak with a long narrow shape designed for speed over stability and was attempting to return to shore for repairs to the fragile craft when the Silver carp, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix launched itself from the water hitting him in the head.

The impact was so hard that initially he thought someone had thrown a brick at him, (in previous races in Texas people had shot at him with BB guns - a type of air pistol) but the crew of a three man canoe assisting him confirmed the culprit was in fact a 90cm long fish.  

He continued on but was forced to withdraw from the race due to a damaged rudder and suffered from headaches and dizziness for a few hours after the incident. Concussion was later ruled out after medical checks.

The Silver carp is one of several introduced species covered under the catch all name Asian carp in North America and can grow to over 1 metre long and 18kg in weight and are capable of leaping over 3 metres from the water.

They are filter feeders and were introduced in the 1970s in an attempt to control algae in aquaculture and municipal wastewater treatment facilities.

Predictably they soon escaped and have become a major problem in many US waterways with their populations growing to plague proportions, out competing endangered local species such as American paddlefish, Polyodon spathula.  

Also known as "flying carp" due to their tendency to leap from the water when startled they are becoming an increasing danger to river users, particularly water skiers and other high speed pleasure craft users to such an extent that local US Fish and Wildlife Service officers have taken to wearing hard hats when on the river.