Relationship With Wildlife Kayaking

YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH WILDLIFE WHILE OUT KAYAKING

I saw a video on YouTube recently of a sea kayak fisho in Woody Head, who saw a lot of activity on the horizon which he took to be a shark feeding in the area. He headed over to investigate and subsequently, his kayak became a target for the hungry predator.

The shark began to nudge the kayak and take some interest. It got me thinking about our relationship with wildlife while out kayaking. The bloke curiously said in the video, “it’s finally happened, there you go, harassed by a shark”. He went over to the shark and pedalled up to it. If anybody is the harasser it is him.

You can see the video here:

 

WE ARE NOT TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN

It is easy to think that we are top of the food chain. We have a sleek, reinforced kayak with three or four rods, stalking the area for our prey. But we are not. There are stories of kayakers being attacked by sharks and losing limbs and even their lives. The kayak offers some protection, but a particularly determined and inquisitive shark will break through the fibreglass. It is best to keep an eye out for sharks, and absolutely avoid anywhere where there are sharks feeding.

Look for a fierce interest in a certain area from seagulls and other aquatic birds. This could mean there is a carcass in the area which will undoubtedly attract sharks. Take extra care around sandbars, reefs and drop-offs which are sharks preferred stomping grounds.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU SEE A SHARK

Don’t get nervous. If you have a bait bucket, get rid of the bait as this is likely what is attracting them. Set off towards the shore, keeping an eye on the shark. Don’t paddle excessively. Keep your strokes smooth and controlled so as not to pose as wounded prey. If it gets a little too close for comfort, use your paddle to hit the shark firmly on the snout or gills. It probably just wants to investigate your kayak and a nudge should be all that is required to move it along.

LEAVE THE ENVIRONMENT AS WE FIND IT

The angling and outdoor community subscribe to the creed of leaving the environment as we found it. Part of this has to include the wildlife. To do this we need to stay a safe distance from the local wildlife.

THIS DOESN’T JUST APPLY TO SHARKS

This applies to all wildlife. I have spoken to kayakers who have got up close and personal with seals. Some have even told me stories of seals jumping on the end of their kayaks to bask in the sun. I wouldn’t recommend this either. Any impact you have on the local wildlife is likely to be a negative one. If the seal begins to associate boats with safety, it may begin approaching them. This could pose all kinds of risks to the seal, particularly if there are propellers involved.

Keep a safe distance between you and any wildlife while out on your kayak. We are guests in their habitat and should not impose or overstep our welcome.


 

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Jackson Williams
jacksonw@dinga.com.au

Jackson Williams has been fishing around Australia for 20 years and loves his home region of far north Queensland.