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

If you are out on the water in any area where there might be sharks, safety is on your mind. You might be wondering “do sharks attack fishing kayaks?” And what you can do to reduce this danger. While fishing kayaks are more significant than regular kayaks, they are still not much defense against a shark!

Do Sharks Attack Fishing Kayaks?

Kayaks do not often get attacked by sharks, but it has been known to happen. Usually, an attack occurs because a shark is curious or confused. Humans are not a normal part of a shark’s diet, and sharks are not attracted to kayaks. You should be aware when you are kayaking near sharks, but they rarely pose a real threat.

Whenever you’re kayaking in water, you face the potential of coming into contact with various wildlife from alligators, dolphins, beavers, and etc. Not all are dangerous, but it’s still important to know what to do when you come into contact with them.

How Often Do Sharks Attack Kayaks?

According to KayakAndFish, it’s very rare for sharks to attack kayaks. And indeed, it’s so rare that there aren’t any specific numbers on this. In 2017, there were only 155 reported shark attacks on water vessels (motorized and non-motorized) in the world. 

When you consider how many boats go out on the water every day, that’s amazingly few.

You are highly unlikely to get attacked by a shark while kayaking. Most sharks are opportunists and will ignore a kayak or swim away after a brief investigation. In addition, many shark species are not even big enough to attack a fishing kayak, although some certainly are.

In general, sharks you need to be aware of include great whites, tiger sharks, bull sharks, and shortfin mako sharks. Out of all the sharks on this list, a mako shark represents the least threat. They are generally not aggressive unless provoked. 

Great whites are probably the biggest threat to kayakers.

How Dangerous Are Shark Encounters?

Your next question will probably be, “if I run into sharks on the water, how likely are they to hurt me?”

The simple answer is not very. While a great white shark is perfectly capable of destroying any kayak, even a large fishing kayak. They will not often be inclined to do so. 

Remember, humans, aren’t their normal prey.

In most instances where a great white shark has taken an interest in a kayak, it has left the boat alone – even after it has started to attack it. 

For example, PaddlingMag describes the encounter of one kayaker with a shark attack, which resulted in the shark releasing the kayak after an experimental bite.

Sharks explore with their mouths, and they might bite a kayak or paddle to see if it is edible, but they will rarely go beyond this because they will not see it as food. However, from below, sharks may struggle to determine whether a kayak is animate or not, so they might be inclined to investigate.

This is particularly true of bull sharks and great white sharks, who tend to fall below their victims. The outline of a kayak could easily look like a whale or seal and thus attract attention.

Once the shark has nibbled the kayak, it is quite likely to decide it isn’t edible and will lose interest. 

However, you should not take it for granted that a shark will leave your kayak alone, especially if you stray into an area where sharks are hunting. You might get thrown from the kayak and confused with their prey.

Should I Be Afraid Of Sharks?

Sharks are mighty predators. While the number of fatalities from shark attacks is low, that’s no reason to discount how dangerous these animals can be if they choose to attack. 

A fishing kayak will offer minimal defense against something as large and robust as a great white shark.

You should not take the presence of sharks lightly. If you discover you are kayaking in an area where sharks have been seen, stay calm, paddle to shore, and leave the water. Do not get out of your kayak or panic. A lot of splashing is likely to attract attention.

If you know that sharks are in the area, don’t take your kayak out – but don’t refuse to ever paddle in the ocean because you run a small risk of encountering sharks. As long as you are careful and sensible, you should be safe enough.

How Can I Avoid Shark Attacks?

Of course, you should do what you can to minimize the risk of being attacked by a shark, so here are some tips that may help you. If you paddle in the ocean regularly, stay aware of your surroundings and keep up to date about news in the general area; if sharks are hunting nearby, don’t take your kayak out.

Avoid Fishing Slicks

Firstly, stay away from common shark hunting grounds or places that are likely to attract them. Fishing slicks are much more likely to have sharks nearby, and hungry sharks at that. You don’t want to be in this sort of environment, so keep away.

Remember that blood in the water will attract sharks, so you should not kayak anywhere that this is likely to occur. If you are fishing yourself, avoid doing so in shark hunting grounds and do not throw injured fish into the water; this is likely to draw in trouble.

You should also avoid kayaking in areas with lots of seals or sea lions. These will attract the predators, and you could easily get caught in the hunt.

Don’t Kayak At Dawn Or Dusk

Sharks are opportunists and will hunt at any time, but they do most of their hunting around dawn and dusk. Therefore, you should stay off the water at these times, reducing your chances of encountering a shark that is actively hunting.

A shark that isn’t hunting may still take an interest in your fishing kayak, but it is much less likely to pay attention than a hungry shark looking for prey.

Don’t Paddle Away From Sharks

While you should leave an area if you find out there are sharks nearby, don’t try to paddle away from it if you see a shark. This will make you look like prey, and the splashing is much more likely to attract attention than a still boat.

You should wait quietly and calmly for the shark to leave. Call for help if you need it, and alert someone to the issue if possible. When the shark has left, paddle toward the shore slowly, without making a lot of disturbance in the water.

Rap The Shark With Your Paddle

You don’t want to face down a shark, but if you are in serious trouble and have no other options, try tapping the shark sharply on the nose with your paddle. This may be enough to frighten it back into the water and away from you.

This is a last resort action and not something that you should depend on. It may not work, and the shark could continue its attack.

Final Word

While sharks are a rare threat to kayakers, they are one that you should consider before you start kayaking in the ocean. 

Keep yourself up to date about shark movements and hunting areas, and plan your kayaking trips sensibly. If you are in doubt or you can see sharks in the water, do not go out; choose a different area or wait until the sharks have moved on.

Never kayak in a shark’s hunting ground. While sharks don’t prey on humans, it is easy to get caught up in a frenzy, and a kayak will not protect you from a shark.

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