Alligators and kayaks

Another thought Doug
When I’m in Florida, I put my wife in the front seat of a tandem. By the time the gators get done with her, they’ll be too full to bother me.

is that why
canoe racers from florida are so fast, to keep ahead of the gators ?

Is anyone going to be paddling.
The Loxahatachee this coming Sunday, Monday or Tuesday ??

If things go right for us we might be pulling into Jonathon Dickinson on Saturday



Lox river
Hi Jack,

We might be paddling the river or the Lox Refuge to the south. I did the river a couple of weeks ago and the treefall from Wilma was a challenge. I may do the river solo on those days so drop me a line and I will give you my phone # and we can meet up.



Love paddling with gators and watching
them. On lake I fish is filled with hydrilla in the summer. The gators lay out on the hydrilla mats in the mornings. Counted seven in a 3 acre area one morning. Guess the think a 9.6 kayak is bigger than them, but several are 12-14 ft.

Gators and kayaks? have no fear!
I went there last Feb on my birthday…saw about 4 gators…surprised you didn’t see any…the guy who rented kayaks told me that, in the 25 years he’s worked there, only once was anyone bitten and that was an 8 year old who was swimming…where WERE his parents…

Wonderful nature shots Matahari
A little different wildlife than Wisconsin.

Thanks for the pics.

Hey, Mataharihiker…
The birds in question are two ospreys. The photo mentioning sawgrass ripping you apart is actually a Sabel Palm, aka Cabbage Palm or Swamp Cabbage. The heart of the crown is edible but to get at it you kill the tree in the process. The other mention of sawgrass is actually Saw Palmetto. Its berries are well known for shrinking the prostrate gland in men 45 and older. The photo of the two stems of flowers is some kind of terrestrial orchid. I used to know it but the name escapes me for now.

I hope some of this info helps you out.

The GulfCoaster

I am that 8 year old.

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I am now 32 years old. I was swimming while my parents were arguing about which one would be in the front of our canoe in the alligator infested swamp. I remember it well, I was in the middle. Their bickering really pissed me off, so I hopped out. The splash was loud, and I suppose with my New York pale skin, I may indeed have appeared to the gators basking on the water's edge to be a freshly plucked game hen.. who knows. All I know is... they got me. Got me wicked hard. On the buttock. Youch! To this day I get scared, wicked scared. I won't even look at your webshots... well, maybe the osprey but not the gators. Funny, I sleep with a stuffed gator that my father won at a beanbag toss at the county fair.. but this one is clearly goofy, with his gator tongue sticking out to one side. But I confess. I do awaken at night once in a while and find myself thrashing that stuffed gator all over my bed. Especially if it rubs against my butt. My therapist says that I might be able to look at gator pictures after about ten more sessions. My goal is to eat gator meat. Sort of a delayed come-uppance.

Anyhow, that is my story. I call it A Million Pieces of Gator Bait.


A few years ago in

– Last Updated: Jan-27-06 12:40 AM EST –

Lakeland, FL a man paddling a SOT kayak in a lake in the middle of town was attacked by a large gator in broad daylight. The attack probably occurred for three reasons:
1. It was gator mating season.
2. SOT kayaks have a very low profile (and so does a gator).
3. From what I read the color of his SOT was a dark bronze.
From the three reasons listed above here's what I hypothesize: The bull gator was watching over his turf. An intruder with a long, dark profile enters his turf triggering an attack response. He heads for it to either chase or kill the intruder.
Here's some trivia about gators:
A 10 footer has a cerebrum about the size of a poker chip. Their cerebellum (the reptilian part of every brain that deals with instincts)however, is one of the largest for any animal pound for pound. So intellectually they're about as smart as a box of rocks but their instincts are extremely well honed (and why not, as a species they've had over 200 million years of experience).
They have a very good sense of smell. Along the length of their upper jaw just above the lip is a band of receptors, same as sharks and they function in the same manner, detecting electrical and variable pressure impulses in the water like that of a thrashing animal.
Their eyes have a reflective membrane lining the inside of the back of their eyes. You can see this for yourself on any warm night in Florida on just about any pond, lake, creek or river with a flashlight. Just shine it along the surface and when you see that bright, reddish-orange glow you've spotted a gator. Also helping their vision is a circle of yellow skin surrounding each eye that helps in reflecting even more light into the eyes. They also have a inner third eyelid that protects the eyes when attacking prey or competitors.
They have flaps over their ears that automatically close when submerged to protect their acute sense of hearing.
The same applies to their throat. It too, closes automatically when submerged so it can open its mouth under water.
The jaws of a ten footer can snap a 2"x4" piece of lumber in half and the closing pressure is over 1500 psi.
The mouth isn't the only thing you need to worry about. The tail of one that size can break a grown man's legs and/or back.
They are diurnal but prefer to hunt at night when their senses give them a distinct advantage. They usually hunt from just before dusk 'til right after dawn.
Dogs are their favorite gourmet dish.
During mating season they tend to stay awake 24/7 with catnaps few and far between until they've had their share of sex.
What can you do to prevent provoking this giant water-loving lizard? DO NOT swim in in any body of water known to have gators. DO NOT let your dog run loose around any body of water. DO NOT walk your dog around any body of water, especially at night. Somewhere around Naples, FL a person was walking their dog when a gator attacked and killed the person, then ate the dog. NEVER swim alone. NEVER, EVER feed gators. They aren't smart enough to know that they shouldn't bite the hand that feeds 'em, they just make the association of humans = food. If a human-habituated gator sees a human walking along the shore it's only thought is food. If you don't feed it, it will feed on YOU! and no! don't go carrying treats in your pockets to placate the gator. If it's still hungry after you feed it will feed on you!
However, if left undisturbed by humans you can paddle (in a canoe anyway) among 14 to 18 footers and if they still have an instinctive fear of humans they will actually flee from you as long as they have a way out of the confrontation (this of course excludes mating season).
If you wish to know more contact me.

I do paddle with them weekly but would always advise caution. There was one fatality on the Loxahatchee River of a child swimming near a nest. A friend of mine had a large chunk taken out of the bow of his kevlar Jensen 18 while paddling the Mosquito Lagoon area. Taking on water, sinking fast and paddling furiously to dry land. As noted before we were aggressively bumped by a gator in our canoe who then went for my wifes kayak, then her paddle and hand. We still paddle the same area weekly and will continue to do so but caution is always wise. I suppose the craft I would be most apprehensive on would be a SOT as exposure of limbs is more pronounced.


I think some places in Florida need
a gator season, like the Myakka.That herd needs a little thinning.

Myakka gators
I have only paddled Myakka once - in a rented canoe

and you have to carry it over that area by the pier.

I could not believe it when we got back in canoe and went about 25 feet and saw about 25 alligators all in a pile. Each and every turn rendered 4-5 at every corner. Some were HUGE !

We just bought our own canoe last week, and the hubby says we can put in somewhere else to avoid me seeing that ‘clump’ of gators at the beginning.

That same day a young couple from Europe, just married were returning from their canoe trip and she was red at a beet ALLOVER, just petrified with what she had just seen.

I’ll do Myakka again - but from a different location from where they rent those canoes!


I’ve paddled it 3-4 times. The number
of gators you see is related to the water level. Last time, at near flood, we saw hardly any. Another time, during a drought, they were wall-to-wall. They are there whether you see them or not.

Headed to LOX NWR tomorrow (1/28)
I didn’t make it up there yet but have a trip planned with others for tomorrow at 10 a.m. I’m really looking forward to it.

And again, this isn’t the Loxahatchee river but the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. Mebbe the Lox river is part of it but it’s not the place that’s commonly known as the Loxahatchee river.

The rental company only charges $32 for an all day canoe rental and that’s pretty damn cheap compared to renting anything on the beach (they’re more like $30 an hour!)

I don’t have a SOT, I have my little ‘punkin seed’ shaped Perception so that’s what I’m going in. And before anyone knocks my tiny little yak, YOU try getting a normal 14’ yak up the stairs, around the corner, and into my walkin closet! I literally shopped for size and not features.

I’ll post a link to pictures tomorrow afternoon/evening

Yep! Paddling along in my canoe next

– Last Updated: Jan-28-06 1:53 PM EST –

to a kayak when wamp! No kayak. Little later paddling along side another kayak when whoosh. Nother kayak gone. This happened another two times and then a gator took a little bite of my canoe. I figure from that experiance that gators must prefer kayaks over canoes 4 to 1. Therefore I always try to paddle the swamps next to a kayak! :^) :^) :^)

Need any more help, just holler.



I paddle the saint johns
It is slap full of gators. In flood most of them are back in the woods but by mating season toward the end of the dry season the river is in its banks and a lot of horny gators are concentrated in the channel.

This time of year I see a bunch sunning but they are too cold to be a bother. During mating season the big males are very aggressive toward my sprint boat. They give the surfski a bit more respect, I guess because it sits so much higher on the water. I never dally about because numerous animals have approached me. When I’m doing intervals and remaining stationary between pieces I have to keep one eye over my shoulder while sitting still. It doesn’t happen every day or even on a majority of days but I’m out almost every day so the chance of encounters is high.

One big guy chased me every morning last year for about a month and then he dissappeared. About a week later I was talking to the local FWC law dog and he told me that the animal had been fed and was harrassing people at Hontoon Island State Park. It was removed. Went 12’8" and 600lbs or so. Don’t think I’d win that battle.

People feeding the gators should be shot. There was a sluggish 10footer hanging out around the fish cleaning station on the upper end of my lake this AM. I get the feeling that I’m going to have problems with that animal once the water warms and he gets more animated. You would believe the number of people overnighting on house boats that I’ve caught tossing scraps to gators on the river. I’ve gone ballistic a couple of times and the morons look at me in my little boat like “what’s the big deal?”. I’m convinced that some of the river tours also feed gators to garrantee that at least some animals will be hanging out in a predictable spot for their tours.

You have wittnessed an alligator attack on several boats?

In what time frame? Where? What happened?

I’ve been paddling around the beasts for eleven years, and the folks I paddle with have many more years, and we’ve NEVER had any problems.

Sure, sometimes we scare them, and then they scare us, but never an attack.

We paddle the rivers and swamps of central Florida weekly.


I’ve paddled with many…
…and never had a problem. In the water I’ve

had them follow me, but they seemed to be more

curious about what i was than anything else.

But I can see that if they were used to being

fed from boats they might be aggressive.

On land I’ve had a few that stood their ground

until I threw a rock or stick at them, and one

was aggressive, resulting in me putting a pistol

round in the sand front of his nose. (The second

one was intended for a more vulnerable spot, but

it wasn’t required.)

Gator Repellant
By the by…

When I first came to the deep south, I read all I could,and talked to many locals about the alligators.

They have very sensitive organs on thier lower jaws to detect even the slightest disturbance in the water. I guess there is nothing quite like it in other animals.

Many back woods boys have discovered long ago the way to repel the animals is a loud slap on the water with your paddle. Easier with a canoe paddle. Properly done, it can sound like a .22 going off.

Kind of like shouting in one’s ear, or a bright light in our eyes, it hurts thier perceptory organs, and they will withdraw.