Sharks and Alligators!!!!

I am looking for advice as how to react if a shark, or an Alligator surfaces next to my kayak. We are going to paddle in south Florida and this is a concern I would like to address before it happens. Thanks for any help at all!

Paddle On!

Bill Harrell

Never get out of da boat…

Just enjoy the company! NM

While I’ve never tried it,
It may be possible to change your underwear in the boat, by rigging your paddle-float/paddle into an outrigger assembly. This should give you the stability you need to clean up.

Don’t worry
As for sharks, you’ll be lucky to see any, if you do, enjoy the sight, unless of course you are bleeding profusely and in the water, then maybe worry. As for gators, I paddle with the frequently, give them plenty of room,especially if they are big ones, otherwise keep on paddling. As long as you don’t get between them and the water you’ll be fine. Wish I was going to Florida to paddle :frowning:

seen several
i’ve probably paddled 5K miles in the last four years or so and have seen more than a dozen sharks while in my canoe. hammerheads, bulls, blacktips, the usual suspects. they’re really cool, and i try to take a sigthing as mariner blessing. gators aren’t going to bother you unless it’s breeding season or there’s very little water. either case they’ll defend their turf. btw, i paddle mostly in the coastal everglades and southwest florida.

Never smile at a crocodile
Never smile at a crocodile

No, you can’t get friendly with a crocodile

Don’t be taken in by his welcome grin

He’s imagining how well you’d fit within his skin

Never smile at a crocodile

Never dip your hat and stop to talk awhile

Never run, walk away, say good-night, not good-day

Clear the aisle but never smile at Mister Crocodile

You may very well be well bred

Lots ot etiquette in your head

But there’s always some special case, time or place

To forget etiquette

For instance:

Never smile at a crocodile

No, you can’t get friendly with a crocodile

Don’t be taken in by his welcome grin

He’s imagining how well you’d fit within his skin

Never smile at a crocodile

Never dip your hat and stop to talk awhile

Never run, walk away, say good-night, not good-day

Clear the aisle but never smile at Mister Crocodile

    • -

      Peter Pan

Please Let That Fin Be A Dolphin!

– Last Updated: Apr-06-05 6:32 PM EST –

I have had many on the water encounters with Gators. Just let the bigs ones have their space, as much as possbile, and don't crowd them. They do not tend to be agressive, but do not appriciate being intimidated...

Same goes for Spinners and Black Tips.

Bull Sharks are exactly the opposite, in my own limited exprience. I was once circled by a Bull Shark while I was on a paddle board in NorthWest Florida. I had the sense he was sizing me up. They may push the issue and circle closer. Don't back down from one. Don't try and paddle away quickly. They will take it as a sign of weakness. Raise up and try and look intimidating.

I haven't ever met a Great White Shark, but I live in the Red Triangle of NORCAL. I guess the only thing to do would be pray...

Wait until you read THIS

I’ve read this article a couple of places, I lifted it from this New Zealand site

Kayak Fisherman Harassed by Shark

I got a phone call from a very shaken kayak fisherman who was recently harassed by a very large shark while fishing around 800 meters offshore on the east coast of Northland.

The shark started it’s relentless harassment of the kayak while the fisherman was hauling in a boat longline (yes it was one of ours) with fish on. The shark was taking or mauling the fish on the longline right under the kayak as the line was being hauled in.

In a bit of a panic and keen to put some distance between himself and the agressive shark, the fisherman quickly cut away the longline and accidentally sliced himself deeply above the knee in the process, this cut bled profusely.

The fisherman, obviously shocked by all this, then paddled very slowly away from the longline. Unfortunately, once the line was cut the shark shifted all of it’s attention onto the kayak, it started by circling, and then bumping against the kayak. Occasionaly the shark would submerge only to come up from the depths and bump into the kayak from below.

The fisherman then put all of his remaining bait and burley into a plastic bag and tossed it well away from the kayak in the hope that this would divert the sharks attention, it almost worked as the shark went over to investigate the cause of the splash where the bait bag had landed, but to his horror it returned seconds later.

During the worst parts of the harrassment the fisherman was nearly knocked out of the kayak by the shark several times and had to put his legs over the side and into the water to regain balance.

He also vomited several times during the attack, probably due to the shock of being exposed to a serious and life threating situation for such an extended period of time.

In all the shark hit the kayak between 15 and 20 times with different parts of it’s anatomy including the body, dorsal fin and tail.

When the fisherman was only 150 to 200 meters offshore the back of the kayak was hit violently and the stern momentarily went under. As soon as he had regained balance the fisherman poured on the power with the paddle and, as he reached the shallow weed line near the rocks, he glanced over his shoulder to see the shark close behind, but veering away to avoid the reef.

How Big Was the Shark

The shark was huge, on one pass at right angles and just under the center of the kayak the fisherman noted the width of the head was greater than the distance from the back of his seat to the front of his foot rests, his estimate is a meter or more between the eyes. On this pass the dorsal fin hit the kayak amidships and almost capsized it.

As for the length he noted that the shark tail extended “five to six feet” behind the stern of the kayak when the head of the shark was level with the front. He said the kayak is “twelve and a half feet long” so the shark must have been between 17’ 6" to 18’ 6’ long or 5.33 to 5.64 meters!

What Sort of Shark was it

The fisherman describes the shark as having a shiny, almost jet black top and very white undersides. He mentioned the pectoral fins and tail were huge and he was adamant the tail was positioned vertically on the shark (which rules out a killer whale or other dolphin). He said the dorsal fin never rose higher than 300 to 400mm above the water although, as the back of the huge fish never broke the surface, it could have been longer.

He also noted the front of the head was flat and not pointed, this may rule out a white pointer, otherwise a great white would fit the rest of the description perfectly.

Why Did the Shark Attack the Kayak

Struggling hooked fish is probably the most powerful shark attractant available.

Sharks can pick up vibrations from struggling fish from kilometers away almost instantly, and this is probably what brought the shark to the boat in the first place.

When the shark arrived it took some fish from the longline which likely put it into a feeding mode, the added smell of blood in the water from the fish it had mauled would have probably kept in interested in the area.

Blood from the bait and burley thrown overboard, and any that was being washed off the deck of the kayak, plus the vomit and bleeding from the badly cut knee would have all added to the sharks curiousity in the kayak.

How to Minimize Risk

If you are setting a longline from a kayak, I would suggest baiting the line on shore, or at least have the bait cut up and in a waterproof container on the kayak, so that line setting times and bloody mess are minimised.

When hauling the line, do it as quickly as possible and iki or kill the fish as soon as they are landed, as the vibrations of a dying fish on deck will be amplifed by the hull.

Keep all fish and bait as well as any burley in leak proof containers. Doing this will make any blood and offal less likely to leak or wash over the side and possibly set up a burley trail leading straight to the kayak.


The massive shark stayed in the bay for a considerable time after the incident. The hapless fisherman watched the shark, along with about 40 other locals and holiday makers, from a nearby hill top. One of the visitors video taped the shark still circling the area where the incident occurred. If anyone has photos or video we would appreciate a copy to go with this article.

Aim for the gators…
…with your boat.

If they take off in a hurry you are the boss.

If they stand their ground they are the boss and you say sir and you take off.

Try to catch the three and four footers by their tail and see how strong they are.

On the sharks: same philosopy - sneak up on a nurse shark which are the only ones that can stay still on the bottom, then have some fun.

Balance yourself by keeping your kayak paddle on the bottom and then lean over and slowly put your hand around its tail. Just when you see that it is getting nervous, squeeze real hard and lift up at the same time.

If all goes well you are the boss. If you make a mistake then the shark could be the boss.

Just don’t lose your balance and tip over or both you and the shark will have to clean up the brown mess.

True stuff - honest!