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Gator Question

Post By:sel on 8/4/2016 10:46am
Replies:2, Views: 1037

Hi all, I've been a Florida resident for many decades and have always been involved in boating and sailing. Recently though, I bought a used Hobie Mirage and have been having a wonderful time exploring. Even though I've been on the waters here for years it's always been power boats and sailboats, never a Kayak. As I explore various places I often see Alligators which is to be expected. I've read many, many articles about them, their behavior and precautions. However, due to the very vulnerable position of only inches above the water when sitting in a Kayak, is there any increased danger of an unprovoked attack if in waters with lots of the creatures? None of the information I've read mentions this and only suggests very vague common sense precautions, like not going near them. I'd like to from the experts about the risk, if there is any...Thank you for any information!!

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 Reply #1   
RE: Gator Question
Post By: floater on 8/7/2016 4:39am

First, before sharing my thoughts.....ANYTHING CAN happen even if it's highly unlikely. It goes without saying, but I always feel better saying it anyway. Especially when it comes to wildlife.
Bad encounters with alligators are rare, even from a kayak. Most incidents involve either alligators that have been habituated to accept and expect food from people, or at least animals that hope to get an easy meal tossed their way. So in places where alligators are always fed by humans, greater care and attention wouldn't be a bad thing.
Our size is the best thing going for us in the eyes of an alligator and we even look rather large and intimidating from a kayak, as low and vulnerable as we think we appear.
Alligators are particularly actively hunting at dusk, throughout the night, and just before dawn. Dragging feet or hands in freshwater bodies during these hours would certainly increase risk and should be done with caution or avoided here in Florida. Still, I know lots of folks that fish or shrimp during these times and never have issues even when they see alligators around. If an alligator isn't expecting a snack, they generally avoid people. You may see them basking of the banks or on floating matts of vegetation and even stay put as some folks get a little too close. Alligators can get used to human activity and often not feel too threatened by us if we keep out of their " personal bubble". (The size of that bubble depending on individuals of course)
A couple of other situations that could come into play involve alligators during breeding and nesting season. (Spring through later Summer, depending where in Florida)
Territorial males are generally easy to avoid as they sometimes like to make their presence known by patrolling their "realm". I've seen this a lot and as long as you're trying to avoid them you're likely fine.
Nesting females are generally only a big issue on land near their nest. Avoid them.
I've been kayaking in some spots fairly busy with alligators and never have any problems. Never, ever feed them and I even report folks when I see them doing it if they don't heed a warning. It is against the law and it creates a potentially dangerous situation for people and likely the alligator as well.
Be observant, but don't fret on it. There wouldn't be as many folks out there on the water if it was as scary as our minds often imagine.

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 Reply #2   
RE: Gator Question
Post By: jackl on 12/26/2016 4:45am

We have been paddling in and around gators all over Florida for the past twenty five years, and my criteria is:
1. if they are eight feet or less, they will move out of your way.
2. Always give the big bulls (larger ones) the right of way and they will not bother you
3. Do not approach a mother with babies. You can get within ten feet or so for pictures and she won't bother you.
Any closer and she will open her mouth and give a hiss which in gator language means don't come any closer
4.Never paddle near one where fishermen have been throwing their fish cleanings in the water. the gator is expecting a hand out and will come to you expecting to get one

In short: enjoy them, but respect them

Jack L

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