Do Dolphins Attack Kayaks? [What to Do If You Encounter One]

Whenever you are kayaking out in the water, you face the possibility of being attacked by marine life. You might be wondering “do dolphins attack kayaks?” These cute, beautiful creatures will come close to a kayak, but let’s take a look at whether they will attack one, and what you should do if one comes too close to you.

Do Dolphins Attack Kayaks?

No, dolphins don’t attack kayaks in open water. These intelligent animals will come close to a kayak because they are curious whenever they see an unfamiliar object moving along the surface of the water. Their intention isn’t likely to hurt you, as they don’t eat humans. However, they love showing off their skills and can cause harm by accidentally causing your kayak to tip.

Kayaking in open water can be scary. Depending on where you’re kayaking, you can encounter sharks, alligators, beavers, and other marine life. All marine life encounters can be scary, especially, if you don’t know their behaviors, what they eat, and etc.

Let’s take a closer look at the behaviors and eating habits of dolphins.

How Often Do Dolphins Attack Kayaks?

While it’s not unheard of to hear a captive dolphin attack a human when the dolphin is held captive. Here’s a story about a dolphin that attacked a young girl after swimming with dolphins in SeaWorld.

However, I couldn’t find any evidence of a dolphin attack when kayaking in open waters. Why is this? Well, it has to do with one scenario where a dolphin is held captive, therefore, has a tendency to become aggressive over time.

Captive dolphins are forced to interact with humans, putting them in stressful situations, and eventually causes aggressive behavior.

When a dolphin is in the wild, they are free to live and behave without interaction from humans. Therefore, they are less likely to display aggressive behavior.

That said, it doesn’t mean kayakers shouldn’t be fooled by their charming behavior.

How Dangerous Are Dolphin Encounters?

Dolphin encounters can be dangerous, as these mammals can jump 4.9 meters above the surface water. They have a tendency to show off their skills and females travel in groups also known as pods. If you see a lone dolphin, it’s usually a male.

They have inquisitive behavior, which means, it’s not unusual to see them swimming alongside boats, kayaks, or even come close to people swimming on the beach.

Dolphins are communicative mammals that communicate by whistling, clicking, and using body language by leaping out of the water, bumping, and flipper slapping.

Many kayakers have had encounters with dolphins and they have come close to their kayak. The close encounters are due to the dolphin’s curiosity from seeing an unfamiliar object in the water. It’s not unusual to find a YouTube video of a dolphin following the stern or bow of boats.

Here’s a video of some dolphins riding the bow wave of a boat. They love catching a free ride from the boat’s wake.

They love attention, and you will find them performing amazing acrobatic moves. The downside is if they get close to the kayak, they can cause injury from their flapping tail.

There are various species of dolphins from the Striped, Hourglass, Amazon River, Risso’s, Ganges, Bottlenose, and etc. The Bottlenose dolphin is the most popular species and can be found living in warmer water throughout the world.

Depending on the species, these mammals vary in size ranging from 4-30 feet, and weigh between 88 lbs. up to 22,000 pounds. Meaning, if one comes into contact with your kayak, it can definitely cause injury or even death.

Not to mention, they travel in pods (or groups), therefore, you’re more at risk of being accidentally hit by one of them, especially, if they get too close to your kayak.

Should I Be Afraid of Dolphins?

Dolphins are beautiful creatures and for the most part, there’s no reason to fear them. As long as they don’t come too close to your kayak, you should be fine.

That said, it’s easy to be fearful if it’s your first time seeing a dolphin while kayaking. At first, you might think it’s a shark, especially, when you first see the fin.

There’s no reason to be afraid when you see dolphins. However, you should stay aware of your surroundings. That said, sometimes no matter what you do, these creatures will come close to you. You look down and you see a pod of dolphins swimming around your kayak.

These creatures are stealthily slow and you won’t see them coming until you see them performing their acrobatic jumps.

How Can I Avoid Dolphin Attacks?

It’s normal to want to get closer to the dolphins, so you can take a selfie or a picture with your smartphone. That said, avoid the temptation and keep your distance.

So what can you do to ensure you don’t get too close?

If you’re kayaking in the ocean, there’s not much you can do, but below are some tips to help you avoid a dolphin attack.

Understand The Laws

Many countries, including the United States, have restrictions about how close you can get to dolphins, including whales. According to the NOAA Fisheries Policy, attempting to interact with wild marine mammals is prohibited. Meaning, you should not harass the mammals which include, attempting to pet, feed, touch, or chase them.

If you’re caught violating the laws, you could be punished by law and face fines up to $100,000 in fines, as well as one year in jail per violation.

Stay Out of Their Territory

These warm-blooded mammals live in the ocean but prefer tropical water temperatures. The Bottlenose dolphin is the most popular species found in the U.S., and can be found living along the West Coat off California, Washington, and Oregon, Gulf of Mexico, along the East Coast from Florida to Massachusetts, and in Hawaii.

This means it can be hard to stay out of their territory, especially, if you enjoy spending time kayaking in the ocean. The only way to ensure you don’t come into contact with them is to stay out of the ocean.

That said, some dolphins like the Amazon river dolphin live in freshwater streams and rivers. Unfortunately, it can be hard to never encounter one, especially, if you spend a lot of time on the ocean.

What To Do If A Dolphin Gets Too Close To Your Kayak?

If a dolphin happens to get too close to your kayak, it’s normal to want to pet them, after all, they are considered to be friendly.

Don’t believe for an instance that these beautiful creatures want to bond with you and you should reach out and touch them. These are wild creatures and should be left alone.

Even though dolphins are carnivores, their diet consists of mackerel, squid, sawfish, cod, or other cephalopods and fish. That said, they do have teeth and there are plenty of stories on the Internet where they have bitten a human.

The best thing you can do is to give them their space. If they’ve encroached on your space, then do your best to get out of the situation. That said, make sure you don’t frighten or injure them with your paddle.

If you can’t get out of the situation, then just sit back and enjoy the show. Eventually, they will move once they stop being curious about the kayak.

Final Word

While dolphins are a rare threat to kayakers, there have been stories about kayakers getting injured by them. This is usually due to the kayakers getting too close to the mammals. Or it could be from the dolphin showing off their skills and accidentally hitting the kayak, causing them to fall out.

These carnivores have never eaten a human (at least there’s no evidence of it). If you encounter a dolphin, consider yourself fortunate, not many people get to see these animals up close.

That said, be aware of your surroundings and don’t get too close to them. Dolphins are beautiful creatures but should be admired from afar, without any interaction from humans.

Related Articles