The sight above the surface of Minnesota’s St. Croix River was remarkable: A bald eagle was floating on the water, and boaters were able to approach within feet, video shows.
But it wasn’t until the iconic bird swam to shore Wednesday that awe-struck onlookers discovered what was going on beneath the surface. The eagle had in its clutches a huge fish, which the predator dragged alive to the sandy edge of the St. Croix — a Mississippi River tributary that forms part of the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Video that Dan Goff posted of the spectacle on Twitter has been viewed more than 800,000 times in less than 24 hours.
“Thought we saw an injured bald eagle on the St. Croix River tonight,” Goff wrote on Wednesday. “He wasn’t injured.”
His two-minute video has been retweeted more than 8,000 times as of Thursday afternoon.
“It’s a huge, live muskie!” a witness observes in the video.
The fish tries flopping back into the river, but the eagle hops over to prevent it — successfully dragging it out of the shallow water and back onto the shore, video shows.
“The muskie’s losing the battle,” one person on the boat says.
Goff spotted the eagle just moments after launching his boat from Afton Marina east of St. Paul, the Star Tribune reports.
“At first, from a distance, we thought it was injured, maybe even a seagull, but when we got closer we could see it was a bald eagle riding on something,” Goff said, according to the newspaper.
The eagle made quick work of its meal: Goff said on Twitter that roughly one hour later, the catch was half devoured.