Will Manatees Flip A Kayak? [What You Should Know]

Manatees are mysterious creatures that seem to be relics of an ancient era. Their large gray forms move effortlessly through the waters of many southern states of the United States of America. People have begun to make homes along these waterways and used the rivers and bays for recreation. Interaction with people has become more common, and there are now kayak tours that allow people to view manatees. 

Manatees are not aggressive creatures and do not regard humans as prey. However, they may accidentally flip a kayak if they become cornered or are stressed. Their large, powerful tail can easily flip a kayak or create a massive wave which may cause the kayak to topple. It is best to keep your distance.  

Private kayakers and tour group kayakers come into contact with manatees. Sometimes, the contact may become closer than you want despite your best endeavors.

Are Manatees Aggressive?

Manatees are close relatives with elephants and rock hyraxes but fortunately are more docile than elephants. They are herbivores that graze on grass growing in river beds and sea beds. They, therefore, do not see people as food.

Manatees have recessed teeth far back in their mouths, making a bite attack almost impossible. Manatees are not aggressive creatures. They are generally amenable animals that sometimes show curiosity towards people and may approach kayaks and other boats. 

Can A Manatee Flip a Kayak?

Manatees range in size but, on average, are about ten feet long and weigh eight hundred to twelve hundred pounds. This is an animal of considerable size, and it will consequently have a lot of power. 

Manatees use their impressively strong tails to propel themselves through the water. This tail has enough strength to easily overturn a kayak if it comes into contact with the kayak. However, this is usually accidental, and manatees do not attack kayaks or kayakers. 

A frightened or stressed manatee that is anxious to get away may create huge waves with its tail as it swims away. If there is a herd of manatees, the water turbulence could become enormous and quickly flip or capsize a kayak. 

Are There Any Circumstances When A Manatee Is More Dangerous?

Although manatees may be described as gentle animals, there are some circumstances when they might become agitated enough to try and chase a kayak and its occupants away. 

  • Manatees with calves are more protective, as is expected in the animal kingdom. The babies are often inquisitive and swim up to the kayak to investigate. If this happens, refrain from touching the manatee baby. Instead, let it go away independently or slowly and gently paddle your kayak away so that you are not the target if the mother should object. 

Manatees in this situation make a lot of splashing and disturb the water. In the ensuing chaos and water churning, your kayak may tip over. 

  • Manatees have a fascinating mating ritual. It consists of a single cow being chased by four to six males. That are all vying for a place to mate with her. Their behavior is rambunctious, and as you can imagine, the river or sea becomes very rough around them with such large animals. It’s not a good spot for a kayak. 
  • The males are very energetic, darting off from the herd, only to return at high speed. This could be disastrous for any kayak that ended up in the middle of the melee.  

What Is The Best Kayak To Use Around Manatees?

As manatees can disturb the water’s surface greatly, the best kayak to view them is the most stable one. Kayak width (or beam to use the nautical term) is the most crucial factor affecting kayak stability. 

The wider the kayak generally, the more stable it is. The width or beam is measured at the waterline to indicate stability. Most fishing kayaks are wide and stable, but racing kayaks are long, narrow, and unstable. 

If you only own a racing kayak but want to visit areas containing manatees, it might be better to hire or borrow a more stable kayak. 

Good Etiquette Around Manatees

Manatees are protected animals, and it is an offense to disturb, interfere or injure them in any way. Some good rules to follow for your safety and theirs are:

  • Keep a safe distance so that the manatees do not feel threatened and cannot be injured by kayaks or boats.
  • Use binoculars or cameras to see the manatees better.  
  • Do not feed the manatees as it is terrible for their health and is against the law.
  • Don’t get between mothers and calves. 
  • Never trap manatees inadvertently in an area.
  • Injured manatees may be aggressive if they feel they need to protect themselves. 
  • Keep noise levels low when you are near manatees.
  • Avoid paddling your kayak over a submerged manatee. They may be sleeping and could be startled, causing the kayak to flip and sustaining injuries to themselves.
  • Manatees must return to the surface for air. If you block a manatee’s approach to the surface, they can die. 

Manatees deserve our respect and protection. Unfortunately, there are only approximately thirteen thousand manatees worldwide and six thousand five hundred in the southeastern USA. The shame of it is that man causes the most manatee deaths. 

When Is The Best Time To Kayak To See Manatees?

manatees near kayakers

The best time to kayak to see manatees is from December to February in Florida. The weather is mild, making kayaking a pleasure. Manatees move around according to the seasons but return to the same area each year. 

Final Word

Manatees are not aggressive animals that wish to attack kayaks. They are docile animals that cannot use their teeth in a fight. Their only weapon is their bulk and a large, powerful tail that can move them away from trouble or create waves in the water. 

Although manatees are not aggressive, they can flip a kayak by their enormous size or by a flip of their powerful tails. This is usually accidental and not intentional.

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