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TopKayaker.Net's Guide To Nature Issues For Kayakers

Crocs vs KayaksEncountering Predators While Kayaking
by Athena Holtey

Some realities about paddling in the wild with common
sense tips to help you avoid or survive an attack
.

Each spring we get hit by a wave of inquiries from kayakers about what to do in case of shark attack or encounter with a gator or other predators. The response becomes a feeding frenzy that dredges up tales from old forum topics and near miss encounters by surfers, swimmers, divers, snorkelers and... a few kayakers. Photos licensed for use here. Okefenokee shots by Henry Dorfman of Cincypaddlers.org .

Yes, it happens. Kayaks are bumped, chased, circled, punctured; Shark teeth are pried out of hulls, out of cheeks, and faced off with paddle braces. This is the stuff entertaining forum banter is made of; but often the question remains definitively unanswered. The results are kayakers lacking the confidence to launch into the unknown wilderness they so want to embrace.

The truth is you should prepare for potential hostile situations on the water much as you would gear up in anticipation of 40 degree ocean surf or dehydration on a desert lake. Enjoying dynamic natural environments is what kayaking is all about so let's learn what we can about those environments and be prepared. It is easy to feel in-over-our-heads with the sea of information about the subject on the web. To help wade through it we will draw from recent research & reports by experts as well as fish from an ocean of forum conversations with experienced paddlers. Links to further studies and stories will be provided at the end.


Attack Statistics: INJURY Vs FATALITY

Statistics about the likelihood of attack should lend the paddler some confidence; but you've read them coined into common phrases that are sometimes just plain silly. One is the more-people-are-killed-by-coconuts theory quoted in an ABC News report on sharks in 2002 based on some misleading studies.

It is true shark attacks are rare. Even shark sightings are rare by swimmers and divers let alone kayakers; but when it happens organizations like The United State Lifesaving Association take note. Advisories are in place to train lifeguards on rescue procedures and offer guidance to local authorities on panic and beach closings. Statistics compiled by them for the year 2000 from 68 ocean lifeguard agencies show:

Beach Attendance = 264,156,728
Medical Care Administered
= 236,642
Drowning Rescues
= 70,771
Drowning Deaths
= 74

For the same areas in 2000: Unprovoked Shark Attacks = 54 Shark Deaths = 1

The latter stats come from The International Shark Attack File that contains reports of over 4,000 investigations from a time period spanning the mid 1500's to present. It is maintained primarily by the Florida Museum of Natural History with contributing organizations worldwide. Their statistics charts contain data based on reported, confirmed attacks and are open to some interpretation; but even the unscientific can draw some helpful conclusions.

An example is the ISAF's chart on the likelihood of shark attacks vs other harmful events such as being struck by lightening or attacked by an alligator - not much comfort to a kayaker concerned about the likelihood of all three events but here are some results for the leading states:

California 1959 - 2004:

Lightening Deaths = 26 Shark Attacks = 73 Shark Deaths = 5

Florida 1959 - 2004:

Lightening Deaths = 428 Shark Attacks = 479 Shark Deaths = 7

Hawaii 1959 - 2004

Lightening Deaths = 0 Shark Attacks = 83 Shark Deaths = 6

Nonfatal shark attacks for the same period, although life-altering, lead us to conclude it is possibly a myth that you are more likely to be struck by lightening; However, you are more likely to die from a lightening strike than a shark bite. Sharks are accounted for by states on the coast. Lightening is everywhere, well ...except for Hawaii, apparently. In 17 yrs there I witnessed one lightening storm, but it was a doozie! Read "Paddling In Lightening & Rain" also: See the ISAF chart for all the U.S. here: Lightening Vs Shark Coastal State by State Chart

Another conclusion about shark deaths Vs attacks can be seen here. Percentage wise, more deaths result from shark attacks in California (5 to 73) although they occur far less often than in Florida (7 to 479!). We'll discuss the reason for this in a moment.

Florida 1948 - 2005

Alligator Attacks = 351 Alligator Deaths = 16
Shark Attacks
= 509 Shark Deaths = 8

Regarding the southern US states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina & Texas where alligators are abundant, the ISAF indicates that although you are more likely to be attacked by a shark you are twice as likely to die from an encounter with an alligator. Over a 57 year period confirmed attacks in these states numbered 592 for sharks, 391 for alligators. Shark victim fatalities only 9, Alligator 17. Although I'm sure again that all survivors came away with life altering injuries.

Our Aussy Kayaking friends have their own statistics you can study at the Australia Museum Online with some great reports published by the Australian Environmental Protection Agency. Neither show stats that are cause for alarm:

Australia
Attacks Resulting in Human Deaths 1980-1990


Crocodile = 8 Shark = 11 Lightning Strikes = 19

Since 1867 = 27 confirmed fatal crocodile attacks

Remember again, lightening is everywhere inland as well as on the coast. They also site the following in comparison: Deaths from Bee Stings = 20 Scuba Diving Accidents = 88 Drowning/Submersions = 3367 Motor Vehicle Accidents = 32772.

Disproportionate Fears

We can take comfort in the fact that none of these particular statistics list kayaking as among the activities of their victims; however, the ISAF does show board surfers and divers to encounter more unprovoked attacks than swimmers and some kayak statistics will be discussed below. The Australian EPA reports that crocs are known to overturn canoes but that a large percentage of deaths from crocodile attacks involve situations where judgment and common sense were dulled because the victim had been drinking. Nonetheless, studies and data are being collected and analyzed as you read this by people with a passion for for these creatures for the purpose of teaching us all how to enjoy coexisting on our beautiful planet.

What do they want?

A Little PerspeciveIt is safe to say that sharks and alligators do not look to humans as a main food source as their food sources are known. It has been argued that Crocodile's are another story, a disproportionate fear that may partly explain their declining numbers. However, any animal will try out a new food source when its main diet is compromised through over-fishing or destruction of it's main diet's habitat - something we humans are particularly good at. Alligators & Crocs are opportunistic feeders dining on insects, snakes, waders and small mammals who come to the water for a drink.

Sharks are scavengers and depending on the species eat a variety of things like shells, crustaceans, smaller sharks, sea mammals and carnivorous fish that eat plant eating reef fish. A sharks diet of the latter has been sited in recent studies by the Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego that show sharks are essential to keeping our coral reefs from being taken over by algae, a plight being experienced in aquatic ecosystems such as that in the Caribbean.

Reef fish fall prey to the prey of sharksInterestingly, species like whale sharks seem to prefer plankton and small shrimp that they filter out through their gills. Tiger sharks normally eat turtles and fish but seem indiscriminate about their choices as even license plates have been found in their bellies - no, it didn't eat a car!

It is suspected that in an unprovoked attack a kayak or a kayaker's activity in some way lures the predator to believe food will be found or that its territory is being threatened. Kayaks have been known to be upset by an alligator it has "run over" in the mud. It is true, however, that where a natural food source has disappeared for these fellows the danger exist that they will reach out to any available prey. One case in point is Australia's Lake Macquarie where it appears a change in local commercial fishing rules resulted in an increase of shark sightings with one unprovoked assault capsizing an outrigger canoe. So one thing we will discuss here is how to recognize areas of concern as well as avoid any behavior that may lead predators to false assumptions about us and our kayaks being a threat or on the menu.


WHAT TO BE AFRAID OF & WHERE THEY ARE

CrocodileCrocodiles are very dangerous and are found in Mexico, Central and South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, Australia and in the US Florida's extreme south. As mentioned above American croc species are few, small, and endangered; other species are at critical risk of extinction. The Crocodiles of most concern have special glands in their tongues that can filter excess salt, so they tend to live in saltwater or brackish water habitats which are also a pleasure to explore by kayak.

The largest an Aussy might encounter is about 15 feet long or the size of a small sea kayak. Crocodiles do not chase their prey. They can strike very quickly, however, from a standing start. Salt filtering glands allow them to travel by sea and live in a range of habitats. Crocs have on occasion been spotted halfway between Indonesia and Australia.

Freshwater crocodiles usually live upstream from estuary or saltwater crocs, although the two are found together where territories overlap due to man's development of their natural habitat. "Freshies" a crocodile endemic to Australia, is a smaller fresh water croc about 6 feet long on average. They will bite although humans are larger than the insects and small fish normally sought out.

AlligatorAlligators also have special glands but they don't function as well, so alligators are found mostly in freshwater grassy swamps and slow-moving rivers. Alligators live in the southern United States and eastern China.

Females rarely reach 9 feet; one of the largest males recorded was 14 feet. Once endangered they are now enjoying stable populations. An alligator's large mouth requires they surprise, then jockey their prey about in a manner that allows them to efficiently eat it.

Both Crocs & Alligators have fantastic hearing which is why you may hear one splash off into the water before catching sight of it.

Sharks, of course, are salt water creatures and their 450 species live all over the world primarily in the ocean, except for one: the Bull shark. 35 species have been known to attack people but most of those are hard to identify. The truth is any shark with enough size and power in him can inflict a wound on a human. Of those sharks leading the list as aggressive offenders, depending on where you kayak, are: Great White - maturing at 10 to 14 feet, reaching a maximum of 22.3 feet; Tiger - 10 to 14 feet; & Bull sharks - Males average 7.3 feet, females 7.8 feet. The tiger shark is second only to the white shark in number of reported attacks on humans. The great White, a favorite of sport fishermen, is now a threatened, protected species in it's main population areas of California, Australia & South African coastal waters.

There is an account of a Great White caught off New Jersey in 1916 with human remains in its belly during a 12 day period where a Bull shark was blamed for four deaths. Some experts believe the Bull shark, with no easily recognizable features and the fact that it is the only shark present in fresh waters, to be the most dangerous in the world as it may often go unidentified as the attacker. Bulls can spend a great deal of time in fresh water estuaries, lagoons, harbors, river mouths & bays. They prefer coastal waters less than 100 feet deep and their young are well acclimated to estuary environments.

Nonetheless, sharks on the whole attack less than 100 people a year worldwide killing on average 10. (It is interesting to note records show elephants kill an average of 200 people a year). It is estimated that about 30 million sharks are killed each year primarily for Asian markets, to satisfy a minor gourmet demand in the west and by trophy hunters.

Shark hunting on reefAreas you should have your wits about you would be river mouths, coral reefs, murky waters, in surf, or where one might do some "rock garden" kayaking and especially in areas where sightings or recent attacks have happened; but don't limit your imagination. Rock gardens may also be part of an underwater cave network like on the Mokulua Islands off Oahu, a popular kayaking destination where tiger sharks are common.

Not all sharks hunt in the same way. In Florida the black tip, bull, spinner & hammerhead sharks lead the list in attack statistics. These are sharks that primarily look for splashing schools of fish. It can be presumed that paddle blades in use or any splashing activity around the kayak can appear as such from the sharks perspective. The large number of attacks reported in Florida are possibly less deadly because the Florida species habit is to bite at small fish, so puncture wounds are the common injury.

On the Pacific coast, the tales told about Great White Sharks are possibly more of a source of concern to kayakers than real statistics. Contributing to the ISAF for the Pacific Coast is The Shark Research Committee. They do compile statistics on kayak attacks. Out of 108 reports kayakers represent only 5% of unprovoked attacks. In these instances the main culprit is the Great White Shark which feeds primarily on seals and sea lions - large prey require large swift bites, which is why a true victim is less likely to survive a great white attack. They are known to leave their prey bleeding to death in the water before coming back to eat it. It is presumed that a kayak can look like a sea lion from below. Attacks are close to shore where sea lions frequent so yes, a great white has reportedly behaved as though a kayak might be delicious to encounter.

Sea LionsOf great interest to us kayakers is recent research using a camera attached to the bottom of a surfboard. It shows that the Great White uses sight, although they have a great sense of smell. It typically stalks its prey by swimming along the bottom and strikes by launching a lightning-fast vertical attack.

This explains one California kayaker's report to the committee of being rammed, then left alone to swim to shore. He was in the water about five minutes after the attack and when his kayak finally drifted in no marks were found on his boat to show for the shocking adventure. It could be assumed the shark might have been more interested if he were fishing and had bait along for the ride or had a bleeding wound. You can find this and more accounts of Pacific attacks on kayaks in the online archives of The Shark Research Committee.

In Hawaii the shark to watch for is the Tiger. Oahu has beautiful reef fish enticing to the kayak snorkeler...and fish that feed on reef fish, a favorite prey of sharks. Sharks are also well fed by the sea turtle populations, however are known to follow kayak fishermen around after the enticing smell of fish blood often accompanying them.

Identifying a particular shark species is not that easy, especially from your kayak in challenging circumstances. The ID is helpful to reporting the incident, but don't risk your safety on it.


AVOIDING ATTACKS OR WHAT TO DO IF PURSUED

The question has been asked if sit-on-tops are more prone to be noticed by predators than sit-in-side kayaks. No data exist on this but it can be assumed that sit-on-top kayakers are most often engaged in activities that interest predators, such as diving and fishing off the kayak. Another difference is that a sit-on-top kayaker sometimes leaps from the kayak in shallow waters before landing. They may be more likely to have their dog along for the ride and pets splashing on and off a kayak will attract attention from an underwater predator. However, a sit-on-top kayaker does have the advantage of jumping back onto his boat if in danger - while the sit-in kayaker would be in the water longer in order to set up for a self rescue procedure. The simple answer is that undoubtedly both kayak paddlers need to be prepared with basic safety skills and gear as well as aware of the following points should an attack occur:

Bull Shark Coming At YouAVOIDING SHARKS:

1. Contact your local Fish & Game Dept for trends in predator activities; seasonal behavior patterns for sharks; What type of sharks to look out for; areas and times of day of increased predator activity or recent attacks. This is usually dusk & dawn, as darkness gives any predator an advantage; but don't just rely on that.

2. A good indicator of shark activity in the water are commercial fishermen, seagulls or sea bird frenzied interest in a particular area. A sign of dolphins is not a free pass from sharks. They all hunt the same game. Sandbars, coral reefs and steep drop-offs into the water are also favorite shark areas worldwide. Large schools of fish making evasive maneuvers like jumping bait fish are likely being chased by one.

3. Shiny jewelry, watches, rings, etc. may appear as fish scales attracting attention. Sharks also reportedly see high contrast in colors often used for safety - like bright yellow - but this is no reason to be unsafe in choosing those items most visible when in need of a rescue. Just avoid looking like a fish. Black wet suits are typical good choices; but for snorkeling or diving off your boat I might not choose yellow fins!

4. Paddle in groups in waters that appear suspect. In such waters don't let your dog swim or splash overboard as this could appear to be prey activity from below. Avoid swimming off your kayak near river mouths or estuaries with turbulent waters. Avoid swimming with schools of fish as these are often being pursued by sharks. Tom once looked into a hole in an undersea cave while kayak diving off Oahu to see a shark looking back at him, full in the face. The agitated shark began circling, stirring up the sand clouding up the waters. Quite an intelligent technique for concealment.

5. Sharks have an acute sense of smell. If kayak fishing and filleting your bait as you go, be careful to keep your raw fish scraps or bait secured, not thrown overboard. Kayaker's should be especially cautious with bleeding wounds or women kayakers if menstruating.


Bull Shark RepelledSHARK REPELLENTS

Shark repellents have been developed both chemical & electronic by the military as well as commercial concerns for divers with varying degrees of success. The military's interest was not due to incidents like the famed torpedoed U.S.S. Indianapolis where capsized soldiers became part of a chain reaction feeding frenzy by sharks in 1945; but rather due to sharks biting trailing arrays or listening devices known as hydro phones during submarine surveillance efforts. They also prematurely set off depth charges. The US Navy developed a chemical called "Shark Chaser" that was later concluded to be ineffective.

Both South African and Australian companies have developed electronic devices for dive cages and smaller units for scuba divers. There have been some varying problems with their use. Australia's The Age News reported in March 2003 a commercial diver died of a shark attack after switching it off, then immediately on when he saw the shark. The shark was "worked into a frenzied state" and had not eaten for awhile. Discomfort to humans when not used exactly to protocol exist.

In July 2004 the National Geographic News reported a "Semiochemical" repellent that, when dumped into a sea full of "chum" turns off the appetite and activates a fear response in at least six species of sharks. They speculate that this chemical will become integrated into swim, dive, fishing wear, and even sun block. It is still in testing for safety to other fish and the environment, however. The Washington Post has a more recent article on the subject published in August 2005.

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR KAYAK IS ATTACKED BY A SHARK

Cruz'inDirector George H. Burgess of The Florida Museum of Natural History has written up suggestions for divers encountering aggressive sharks that lend some helpful insights to kayakers so I have integrated them here.

If you see a shark from your kayak, do not panic. Most likely the shark was attracted by something you were doing or by something in the area of your activity. If you are fishing and have a bait bucket over the side, let it go. If you think some catch of yours is attracting him, let him have it.

Regardless of the reason for its attraction do what you can to eliminate it and calmly start toward shore, keeping your eye on him, paddling with smooth gliding strokes, not frantic splashing. Gather up close to a paddle buddy as sharks are less likely to go after a group. Stay in your kayak until you reach shore. If you are far from a landing try to get up against a cliff (in calm water of course) or wall to minimize the directions he can approach you from.

Should the shark be making aggressive advances toward the boat, your paddle is the best weapon to discourage him. Hitting him on the snout should work but if he comes back go for the sensitive gill or eye area. I've wondered why I can't find expert advice on hitting them in the gills or eye to begin with. My conclusion is you do not want to assault a shark just because it is curious. The snout bump let's him know you are not helpless. Sharks are scavengers often looking for an easy meal like sleeping fish as a midnight snack so playing dead doesn't work here. Let him know you have a paddle and know how to use it, but like he and most creatures of nature do, showing ability to do battle is safer than an actual battle for all concerned.

If he knocks you out of your kayak, hold onto your paddle with all your might. Leap back onto your boat and swiftly, not frantically, paddle into shore. If you lose your paddle or kayak, swiftly, smoothly swim to another kayak or to shore. Let the kayak find its own way in if necessary. If you can't get to shore find a way to back up against something to again, limit the directions he can approach you from...and again, don't play dead. Use your hand to bump his snout if you lost your paddle. Leaping onto your kayak swiftly, quickly, even effortlessly, from deep water is achievable and an invaluable skill all sit on top kayakers should aspire to master. See "Deep Water Reentry" here at TopKayaker.Net

Such encounters with sharks should be reported to your area's contributing agency to the ISAF.


Kayak Trip Okefenokee March 2005  - By Henry DorfmanWHAT TO DO IF YOUR KAYAK ENCOUNTERS ALLIGATORS: Special thanks to South Carolina's Cape Fear Paddlers for some valuable insights Photo of Okefenokee alligator - special thanks to Henry Dorfman of Cincypaddlers.org

A South Carolina Kayak Club, The Cape Fear Paddlers, suggest that when you happen on a gator, it will almost certainly run right into the water. Although it appears to be charging, it is just trying to get into the water where it feels safest. See above predator descriptions. Pay attention to the following in planning a paddle adventure in alligator territory:

1. Contact your local Fish & Game Dept for trends in predator activities such as mating and nesting season for alligators, seasonal behavior patterns and times of day of increased predator activity or recent attacks. This is usually dusk & dawn, as darkness gives any predator an advantage; but don't just rely on that.

2. It is always smart to keep your wits about you, so stay sober, and in the warm months do not cut around creek bends too closely, as these are the strategic spots where alligators like to lay hidden and keep an eye out for prey. Shallow waterways in the south are favorite places for alligators to nestle down. Avoid the chance you may unsettle them. Although alligators are shy, they don't like being surprised, and paddling in ditches about 5-10 feet wide when alligators can leap 5 feet from water's edge is asking for trouble, especially in the warmer months in the evening when they are on the prowl, and during nesting season which is roughly the entire summer. Check with locals about water levels in your intended paddling area.

3. If you want to explore shallow narrow areas where alligators frequent, do it when temperatures fall below 70 degrees, when alligators basically become inactive. Put as much as 100 feet distance between them and your kayak. Do not sit on overhanging branches, camp near the water (150 feet is recommended) and take care going to the shore for water while camping.

Alligator country - Photo by Henry Dorfman4. Although a gator that slips off a bank on your approach is somewhere underneath you, and may even follow you a little, stay calm and know that it will not "thump" you from underneath or lunge out of the water at you. Keep paddling, be wary, and if you are a little spooked a group of South Carolina kayakers familiar with alligators advise you bang your paddle on your kayak a few times to intimidate it. Some believe this may sound like wounded prey thrashing about in the mud peaking its interest. Because their hearing is sensitive I would remove all doubt and use my PFD whistle.

5. Signs an alligator is near: A wallow where they like to roll and cool down in the mud; a slide where they slip into the water; a nest. If you ever come across small alligators with, depending on the species, yellow stripes, you have found JUVENILES, which means the mother is somewhere nearby. Baby alligators stay with mom for up to a year. If you remember anything, don't ever stop to observe them or try to touch or catch one. The protectiveness of mother alligators can not be overstated. Certainly do not hunt, harass, or feed them.


WHAT TO DO IF YOUR KAYAK ENCOUNTERS CROCODILES

Crocodiles are temperamental, unpredictable predators and extremely territorial. Their main habitat is brackish water i.e.: where salt & fresh water mix. 15 feet long or the length of a modest sea kayak is typical of Australian crocs but in the US they are few in number, smaller and less aggressive. See above predator descriptions.

Like Alligators, Crocs will most likely charge into the water, although they may appear to be charging at you, when they hear you coming. If your are actually attacked go for the sensitive eye area in every way possible. See "The PFD Knife, Don't Leave Home Without It" here at TopKayaker.Net

If followed and you are spooked, take advantage of their sensitivity to sound and blow your PFD whistle. Should you leap out of your kayak and run for it on land? If stumbling over additional crocs is not part of the effort, this may be a good choice.

Crocodile "hiding"Australia's Dr. Adam Britton maintains an impressive website on crocs. He mentions the myth that crocodiles pursue pray at running speeds of up to 40 mph. On the contrary, 12 to 14 kph is more like it which is slower than a fit human can run. Humans can easily outrun a crocodile on land, without zig zagging (another myth) and crocodiles do not normally chase their prey - "Their typical hunting strategy is one of surprise," he says, "lunging at prey and capturing it in a single fluid movement ...Crocodiles have a relatively low stamina and their physiology does not permit sustained exercise. When a crocodile runs, it is nearly always away from a potential threat and into the water." However he does stress that when protecting their young a croc can rush at a threat from a standing start at an impressive speed.

How to prepare for a kayak trip in Crocodile country:

1. Contact the local Fish & Game or Wildlife Management Dept for trends in predator activities such as mating and nesting season for crocodiles; seasonal behavior patterns and times of day of increased predator activity or recent attacks. This is usually in the summer months but do vary so don't just rely on that.

2. When paddling in an area where Crocs are known to frequent put as much as 100 feet distance between them and your kayak. Do not sit on overhanging branches, camp near the water (150 feet is recommended) and take care going to the shore for water while camping. It is possible to "hit" a hidden croc laying in the mud and they have been known to overturn canoes, so knowledge of their territory and water levels in those areas should be obtained.

3. Be aware that there are three signs a crocodile is in the area: A wallow where they like to roll and cool down in the mud. A slide where they slip into the water. A nest. Like alligators they are much more dangerous in warmer weather. They are also make great, gentle but protective moms protecting their nests with a passion and protecting their young up to a year or so.

4. An Australian Kayaker tells an interesting account of an encounter with crocodiles on Macarthur Island worth a read. His conclusion is that aggressive behavior toward a menacing crock is the best method of defense; but tells of an incident where even gouging out an eye did not deter it from staying nearby and watching the group of wading children it had tried to attack. He is a member of the New South Wales Sea Kayak Club and that link should bring you to an impressive library of trip accounts filed by these veteran sea kayakers.


Kayak With Confidence

Photo by Henry Dorfman - Kayaking with confidence.The more I read about the centuries these creatures have survived only to be endangered primarily by the over fishing of men as well as our ambitious bulldozing of wild habitats the more I understand the passion some people have for them and for minimizing reports of any danger they may present.

But this article is not a balancing act; rather let's put aside disproportionate fears and, as our Forum's Scupper Pro Frank would say, "Paddle On!". I think we all knew, even before reading these facts, that the most accurate phrase about statistics we could coin would be: "We have less chance of surviving the drive to the put in than paddling a kayak in our seas and fresh waterways." Yet we have the confidence to get into our cars everyday.

Are these the only predators kayakers need to worry about? Nope. Many predators exist in the wilderness areas we seek out by kayak. Sea lions, although playful with divers, are also known to be very aggressive and threatening during mating season. Inland kayakers should be aware of bear safety procedures as they have been seen even here on our quiet, domesticated Squam Lake swimming to and from one of the islands looking for camper's scraps. See "How To Eat In The Wild And Leave No Trace" here at TopKayaker.Net

If you are avoiding the waters you want to paddle in because you fear they are swimming with the peril of sea & swamp predators, sound knowledge and skill with proven techniques are the key to confidence.

Take care out there, report your encounters by following the resources below and please do let us know if in any way we can better address this issue.


Scary Best of The Forum Stories & Articles:
Rather than quote specific accounts of predator encounters in this article, if you hope to learn more specifics from studying such, these links should be helpful. I've avoided any links that may not stay current.


Resources:

Knowing what predators are where and why is good basic information that all area Wildlife Management & fishing & game departments should have this online or in pamphlet form. In our Kayak Fishing Section TopKayaker.net provides a state by state Fish & Game Dept. Database for the United States.

Everything you would ever want to know about Crocodilia (Alligators & Crocodiles):


BOOK SUGGESTIONS

buy at Amazon Shark Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance (Hardcover)
by Thomas B. Allen

ISBN 1585741744

Rated 4.5 stars at Amazon.com. From the author of The Shark Almanac.

 


buy at Amazon Shark Attacks of the Twentieth Century: From the Pacific Coast of North America by Ralph S. Collier

ISBN 0971971749

Recommended by our forum members & rated 5 stars at Amazon.com. Includes accounts of shark attacks on kayaks.

 


buy at Amazon SHARKS OF THE WORLD

ISBN 0691120722

Rated 4.5 stars at Amazon.com. Complete and scientific field guide with rave reviews.

 


buy at Amazon Alligators and Crocodiles (World Life Library) (Paperback)
by John Behler ISBN 0896583708

All 23 species of crocodilians from the Caimen of South America to the Saltwater Crocodile of Australia are covered. There is a section with facts and a range map for each species.


buy at Amazon The National Wildlife Federation's Wildlife Watcher's Handbook: A Guide to Observing Animals in the Wild
by Joe LA Tourrette, Joe La Tourrette, Cheryl Ziebart (Illustrator)

This clear, informative handbook geared for youth 9 to 12 yrs, begins with a section on habitat regions of the US and Canada and continues with tips on timing wildlife observation, field awareness, and going prepared for comfort and safety. The chapters on where to observe wildlife cover everything from national parks to one's own backyard. Though the emphasis is on walking and hiking, suggestions for mountain biking, canoeing, snorkeling, and other alternatives for viewing animals are provided.

 

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