Florida is a beautiful place where sun, sand, and surf all meet. Florida has quickly become a hotspot for outdoor eco-adventure activities from kayaking to guided boat tours. Although Florida is a beautiful place to experience nature in an immersive experience, some may be hesitant to partake in these water activities because of large predator animals like sharks or alligators. Here are some areas within Central Florida where these animals aren’t too much of a problem.
Some of the more popular areas in Central Florida that aren’t occupied by alligators or sharks are freshwater spring-fed rivers. Some of these may include: Ichetucknee Springs, Madison Blue Spring, Withlacoochee, and Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail. Ichetucknee Springs in specific, has frequent tubing activity where people can tube through it almost like a lazy river. If this area was populated with alligators, I don’t imagine they’d be there very often. Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail is an inshore saltwater paddling area that is very much safe for kayakers or adventurers to visit. It also spans 150 miles of Florida’s Gulf Coast and features low-lying islands, shallow rivers, various creeks and rivers, and even a few small towns. It also features various different wildlife like various fish and sea turtles, which you can see up-close and personal. It is quite the sight to see and a safe place to kayak through.
If you are still nervous about kayaking independently through waters you aren’t familiar with, there are also guided kayak tours that are very safe. Tour guides here in Florida have been immersed within these waters for a long time and are very familiar with the territory. They also know what to do in the event that something happened. Guided tours are a great way to experience kayaking safely, while also learning about the wildlife and the area.
Although you may have concerns about being in open waters where alligators or sharks may frequent, it is important to understand the facts and statistics in order to accurately avoid an attack by these animals. In Florida, it is more likely that a shark attack will take place than an alligator attack, but both are rare. Floridians obtaining serious injury by a random, unprovoked alligator is really only about a one in 2.4 million chance. With that being said, it is still important to not provoke alligators in order to respect their space, and not risk an attack. To avoid an alligator attack, here are some things to know. Firstly, alligator attacks are pretty rare, but they do still occur. The best rule of thumb when spotting an alligator is to stay away from it. That may seem obvious, but they are very territorial predators so it is best to keep your distance. If you are near one unexpectedly, move away from them immediately. Also, understand the signs of an aggressive alligator. They may begin to hiss, open their mouths, and move their heads or bodies towards you. You must move away from that alligator as quickly as possible as they are very fast animals.
Lastly, alligators typically feed during dusk and dawn and are more active. Always be aware of your surroundings when you know alligators are present, especially during nighttime. Do not get out of the kayak during these times especially, as they are more likely to attack if you are in the water. For sharks, most attacks occur during the months of September here in Florida, especially during 2 pm and 3 pm. In regards to preventing a shark attack while kayaking, be sure to not enter the water if you are bleeding. Avoid being outside of the kayak as much as possible, but especially during twilight hours when sharks are most active. Avoid splashing excessively, don’t wear shiny jewelry, and don’t wear bright-colored clothing. Lastly, do not enter the water if you are in an area where sharks are known to be present. If you spot sharks, head back to shore.