However What Concerning the Critters? Paddling and Animal Encounters

However What Concerning the Critters When Paddling?

Every so often we see posts on social media from new or potential paddlers who fear about animals they could encounter within the water. Each the recent and salt water varieties.   For a few of us, seeing animals most individuals by no means get to see is a part of the enjoyable of paddling.

In case you fear about assembly animals whenever you’re on the water,  one of the simplest ways to deal with these considerations is to arm your self with data.  The extra , the higher you’ll be capable of handle your worry of a critter encounter, in addition to the face-to-face ought to it come to that.

Take note, although, face-to-face encounters with even probably the most feared of critters hardly ever occurs.

However,  you’ll be able to study what animals name your neck of the woods residence – whether or not it’s fowl species, snake varieties or in any other case.  Study what they prefer to eat and when.  Know the place they’re possible to hang around throughout sure occasions of the day.

Data is energy – energy over worry!

Together with training, the very best rule of thumb is to easily thoughts your individual enterprise and provides the animal area whenever you see them.  It’s their residence, in any case.  Behave like you’re a visitor in it, as a result of we’re.

Most critters don’t wish to have encounters with people and will provide you with a large berth.  In order that’s a win win!

Feared Species

It wouldn’t take a lot time to give you an extended record of animals people might fear about when getting within the water.  However the two that appear to return up probably the most are snakes and sharks.  Each two very maligned and misunderstood species that play necessary roles in the environment.

Non-venomous, innocent brown water snake. Photograph: UFL Johnson Lab

Herps and Paddling

Okay, now we have all seen photographs and movies of snakes encountered by kayakers and different paddlers. The interwebs abound with all types of sensational tales about water snake “assaults.”  A few of these one-on-ones may occur. A few of then little doubt did occur. However in most circumstances, snakes don’t wish to encounter us as a lot as we don’t wish to encounter them.

Keep in mind, once we see movies and photographs on social media, we’re getting a small snippet of the entire story – an edited model of what might have occurred.  Not essentially the entire image. Right here’s a superb instance of that.

I’ve paddled inland waterways within the South for over 10 years, in cottonmouth habitat and have solely seen one.  It wished nothing to do with us. It didn’t chase us.  It went the opposite approach.  The one time I’ve seen non-venomous water snakes while paddling was once I was actively searching for them out, near however not underneath a woody shore  with brushy overhangs. I stored my distance, snapped a couple of photographs and went on my approach.  The few occasions I’ve seen swimming snakes, they took one have a look at me on my massive (to them) paddle board and disappeared.

Greatest rule of thumb must you see a snake whereas paddling: go away it alone. I shouldn’t must let you know, individuals do loads of downright silly issues for the sake of social media.  Nearly all snake bites happen when persons are making an attempt to seize a snake, kill it or in any other case threaten it, like by chance stepping on it.

The following smartest thing to do is find out about snakes in your neck of the woods.

  • Learn scholarly, credible articles posted by scientific sources on what snakes could be discovered within the areas you would possibly paddle.
  • Discover ways to determine them.
  • Go to your native zoo, aquarium or pure sciences museum.
  • Study the myths and tall tales from the info. They abound in relation to snakes.  Once I labored for the North Carolina Aquariums years in the past, we obtained extra questions on snake folklore than we did about fish – even sharks!


When Paddling:

  • Keep away from paddling proper up towards brushy shorelines, and underneath brushy overhangs.
  • if  you’re launching in a distant space that isn’t well-used, watch the place you step and watch out round docks.  Keep in mind, snakes sense our vibrations – so even a mildly crowded launch website it not going to be all that interesting to  a snake.

There are some nice Fb teams that may assist you to study snake ID in addition to behavioral info about all types of snakes, each venomous and non-venomous.  Reality is, within the US there are solely 4 fundamental species of venomous snakes – a complete of 30 should you depend all of the subspecies/varieties.


Worry of The Man within the Grey Go well with or The Landlord as surfers name sharks may be the most important factor that spooks people in relation to salt water. Due to widespread tradition and media, sharks have really gotten a foul rap.

There are all types of statistics that underscore simply how unlikely a shark chunk is – as an illustration, you usually tend to get significantly harm in a automotive accident on the best way to the seashore than you’re to get harm by a shark, Or die by bee sting.  We may go on. If you need the lowdown on shark chunk stats, go to the Florida Museum’s Worldwide Shark Connect File.

It could appear to be shark bites are on the rise, however there are extra of us within the water than ever earlier than.  In areas the place there may be documentation of declining meals sources for these apex predators, shark bites could also be barely elevated however nonetheless, the probabilities of it occurring are nonetheless not that top compared to different dangers we people take every day.

The methods for coping with a worry of sharks is identical as with snakes: get educated. Study the realities and bust the myths.  A visit to an aquarium is a enjoyable approach to begin.  Steer clear of the sensational Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, although, and as an alternative, comply with the Instagram accounts of conservationists like Cristina Zenato, who dives with sharks practically day by day, usually eradicating fish hooks from their mouths.

Not on the Menu

Sharks don’t actively search people out as prey.  We aren’t of their weight loss program.  The truth is, we don’t include sufficient of the issues they want for nourishment.  So, some scientists consider that shark bites are circumstances of mistaken identification.  Brief surf boards seem like seals; boogie boards seem like sea turtles. One “check” chunk and the shark learns in any other case.  In fact that check chunk can do loads of injury.  It’s uncommon {that a} shark continues to to feed as soon as it chunk a human.  Learn extra about that right here.

There are some frequent sense precautions to take to be sure you keep protected and never be mistaken for lunch:

  • Don’t swim at dawn or sundown/twilight, when many sharks are feeding.
  • Keep out of and away from murky water – particularly after a superb rain.  “Vitamins” present in stormwater run off, particularly on the mouths of rivers, gulches or stormwater administration drains, entice smaller fish, which in flip entice greater fish.  Mix that with the cloudy water and circumstances are good for a mistaken identification situation.
  • Heed native data.

  • Paddle with somebody or in a bunch when you’ll be able to.

  • Keep away from paddling round fishing piers or boats.

  • If you’re sup fishing, don’t grasp your catch within the water.

I’ve seen a number of sharks while paddling – solely a pair had been massive and so they went on their merry approach, not in the least excited about me.I assume they’re on the market each time I paddle out. It’s their residence.  I’m vigilant however I don’t let it cease me. Once I’m in Hawaii, I don’t let my legs dangle a lot and I get again on the board shortly however calmly if I fall.

Can you notice the dolphin fin? Photograph Credit score: Boston Globe


It’s good to be sure you know the right way to inform a shark fin from one thing else.  Dolphin fins have a definite curvature to them, particularly on the again aspect of the fin. Whey they swim, you may additionally see their backs rounding up and out of the water.  In case you see their tails, or flukes, they are going to be perpendicular to their our bodies.  Shark fins are straighter and lack that distinct curvature. Shark tail fins are vertical and when protruding of the water, might seem like a smaller dorsal fin. It may be simple to mistake a ray’s wing for a shark dorsal fin if the ray is swimming on its aspect.  If the fin flops down abruptly, chances are high it’s a ray.

Additionally observe: sure fish may seem like sharks.  Particularly the cobia.

Shark? Nope. Cobia.

What to do should you see a shark:

  • Don’t panic. That by no means helps something. If the shark is a methods away from you, paddle calmly away, and again to shore.  Maintain paddle splashing to a minimal.  Keep in your board.
  • If the shark is shut and investigating your board, don’t try and hurt it.  Keep calm! Take your paddle and bang it on the deck of your board to sign you aren’t prey.  You’ll be making a noise that’s unnatural to the shark that approach.
  • If the shark makes an attempt to chunk your board, then smack it on the nostril together with your paddle.  Connor Baxter use this method a number of years in the past when a tiger shark thought his foil was meals and wouldn’t let go.
  • By no means strategy a shark that’s feeding on one thing within the water.
  • In case you see a lifeless seal or sea lion or different massive animal, go away the world calmly and shortly.

We are inclined to worry probably the most the issues we all know least about, so if worry of sharks or snakes is maintaining you out of the water, learn up on these critters and take the suitable precautions. It is going to possible assist!

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