There’s a popular saying in Florida, that if you see a mud puddle, there is likely a gator in it! Alligators are all over Florida. And when we do one of our guided kayak tours, seeing alligators is always a highlight of the day! Spring is the beginning of alligator mating season, so they are more active than ever.
There are few things that get your adrenaline pumping faster than having a close encounter of the gator kind. On our Eco Easy Guided Kayak Tour, we often come in close proximity to alligators, and sometimes they can be quite LARGE. This week, we’ve regularly seen a huge gator that is easily guesstimated to be in excess of 10′ long. Since female gators don’t usually exceed 10′, we always have assumed it is a male, but of course we didn’t ask or get close enough to tell for sure!
So what do you do when you’re in a plastic boat, floating on the water next to a huge dinosaur of an alligator? Well, for starters, you don’t panic! Generally speaking, they don’t want to interact with you at all. For the most part, if you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you. In fact, if there are a lot of kayaks going by or in the area, they may submerge themselves under the water and ‘hide’ I, personally, would rather have them above water where I can see them, but I don’t panic when I can’t see them, either. There are all kinds of gators out there that people never see… but that doesn’t mean that the gators don’t see them!
Secondly, don’t antagonize the gators. Don’t throw anything at them or yell at them, or make loud noises, or slap your paddle toward them. This may sound like common sense, but you would be surprised at what some people will do when they forget that they’re in ‘real life’ and not a zoo or a Discovery Channel show.
And finally, don’t ever… ever… feed the alligators. Not only is it illegal, but it’s also dangerous. When people start feeding alligators, they start to look at people as a food source and that is never what you want from a wild animal!
So, the most important thing to remember if you come across a gator while on a kayaking adventure is to keep calm and kayak on!