Do Sharks Attack Kayaks?

Shark Swimming

Kayaking is a popular recreational activity that brings people closer to the ocean and its inhabitants. But when exploring unknown waters or even familiar waters, participants may be concerned with the possibility of a shark attack, and with good reason.

Sharks are predators in their habitat, and facing one while at sea can be terrifying and dangerous. It is thus natural for every kayaker and aspiring kayaker who wishes to know the joys of ocean kayaking to do his research and know the odds of finding himself face to face with the most infamous water predators – the sharks.

In this article, we explore the topic of sharks attacking kayaks, the truth and the myth, and safety precautions to prevent and survive shark attacks. So read attentively and enlighten yourself.

Do sharks attack kayaks?

Unfortunately, the answer to the above question is yes. Sharks occasionally attack kayaks but it is fortunately not as common as you might think.

Sharks sometimes mistake kayakers for other marine animals (particularly seals) and attack them, but most turn back once they notice the kayak is plastic and not the juicy seal flesh they expect.

It is also worth noting that kayak anglers are more prone to shark attacks than their recreational counterparts, and it’s not difficult to see why. Sharks love eating dead and living animals, so they will occasionally be drawn towards anglers that use different bait to entice fish.

Now that we’ve established that sharks attack kayaks, let’s look at the sharks to look out for, whether sharks like kayaks and shark attack statistics.

Sharks to look out for

When kayaking, it is important to be aware of the sharks that may be in the area. There are several common species of sharks to look out for when kayaking, including tiger sharks, bull sharks, and great whites. Knowing what type of shark you could encounter can help prepare kayakers for the potential danger they may face while in the water. 

Tiger Sharks 

Tiger sharks are some of the largest predatory fish on Earth and have a wide range, ranging from coastal areas to open ocean waters.

They have stripes across the top of their backs and are generally 10 to 14 feet long, with teeth that curve backward and are serrated to be able to cut through hard shells of prey.

They typically feed on sea turtles, sea birds, and other marine animals, but may take an interest in a kayaker if they feel threatened or curious.

Bull Sharks 

Bull sharks are another shark species known to inhabit shallow waters along coastlines and estuaries, making them particularly dangerous for unsuspecting paddlers. These predators prefer warm water climates, which makes them commonly found near tropical beaches where kayaking is popular.

They have also been known to venture into brackish and freshwater areas, where they have attacked and killed people. They have been observed stalking their prey for extended periods of time before attacking, making them a serious threat to kayakers (or anyone) who are unprepared or unaware of the risks.

Great White Sharks

Great white sharks, with their intimidating presence and size, are a species of shark that kayakers need to be aware of when out in the ocean. These apex predators have been known to attack kayaks in certain areas of the world, most notably off the coast of California. 

The great white shark can grow up to 6 meters long and weigh over 2 tons. They have a unique hunting strategy that often involves lurking below their prey before quickly surging up from underneath for an ambush attack.

This is why kayakers need to remain vigilant even when far away from shore. To help protect themselves, they should keep their distance from any schools of fish or mammals that may attract great whites.

Additionally, it’s best to avoid entering the water at dusk or dawn which are times when they are most active and aggressive.

It is crucial to note that these top shark predators are not the only ones to look out for. Any shark within the 6-foot-long plus range is a potential threat you should watch out for.

Do sharks like kayaks?

It’s a question that’s been puzzling ocean-goers for years. While the answer to this question is not certain, there are some things we do know about how these sea creatures interact with kayakers.

Experts suggest that it is possible that sharks can be attracted to the movement of a person in a kayak, however, it is generally believed that they are not interested in attacking humans in this setting; they seem more curious than predatory or aggressive.

Of course, being aware of your surroundings and exercising caution when out on the water is always recommended. Kayakers should take basic precautions if they want to avoid an unwanted encounter with a shark such as avoiding murky waters and swimming far away from any known shark habitats.

It can also be beneficial to stay close to shore or travel with others if possible since sharks will usually swim away from large groups of people.

Shark Attack Statistics

It may surprise you to learn that records of shark attacks have been kept since 1779 which is quite a long time. During this time, over 6522 shark attacks have been recorded globally with just 59 attacks on kayaks.

While this doesn’t eliminate the threat of sharks on kayaks, it is quite reassuring to know that less than 1% of global shark attacks have been on kayaks. This amounts to less than one kayak shark attack every four years.

Shark Attack Fatalities

Sadly, 22% of those unfortunate enough to have an encounter with sharks don’t make it. This is a morbid result, but looking at kayak shark attack fatalities, we get a 0.35% death rate.

While these stats won’t save you if you happen to encounter a shark while kayaking, they should help reassure you that all things being equal, you are very likely to survive the encounter with a little damage to your kayak being the worst of your problems.

Shark Attacks Statistics – A Detailed Breakdown

Location plays an important role in understanding the history of shark attacks. Sharks are more likely to come into contact with humans in certain areas, making it possible for attacks to occur.

Knowing where these interactions occur is the first step to understanding and preventing further injuries or fatalities.

Shark populations have been heavily impacted by fishing practices, climate change, and other environmental factors. As a result, many species now congregate around specific areas that offer optimal conditions for their survival such as warm water temperatures and ample food sources.

These areas often coincide with popular tourist destinations or surf spots where people enter the water unaware of potential risks.

According to data from the International Shark Attack File, about 36% of all global shark attacks take place in the United States, 21% happen in Australia, and 9% in South Africa with the rest being scattered all over the world.

Note that these three areas have long coastlines, dense coastal populations, and some of the best surf breaks in the world (surfers and boaters are about 100 times more likely to encounter sharks than kayakers).

In the US, shark attacks occur along both eastern and western coasts, but are more common in the west than the east partly due to the even distribution of the seal population along the west coast.

Surfing is also more popular in the West, and that puts more humans in the natural habitat of seals and thus in the hunting grounds of many shark species.

One other thing to note is that while shark attacks seem prevalent in the United States, they are concentrated in certain states with more than 50% of them being in Florida. You can thus avoid sharks by kayaking away from their habitats and hunting grounds.

Why do sharks attack kayaks?

Sharks are apex predators in the ocean, and while they rarely attack humans, they can sometimes be a danger to kayakers. While it is difficult to ascertain why sharks attack kayaks specifically, there are several possible explanations that may help us understand this behavior, some of which are discussed below.

Mistaken Identity 

Mistaken identity is one of the most common reasons why sharks attack kayaks in ocean waters. Sharks may mistake a kayak for a seal or other marine animal, and as such, are more likely to strike it out of instinct.

While this can be unnerving for those who use kayaks for recreation or transportation, some steps can be taken to reduce the chances of an attack occurring. Early detection is key in avoiding shark attacks on kayaks. Since sharks typically hunt by sight and smell, staying aware of one’s surroundings is essential.

If a shark is spotted nearby, paddling away quickly can help prevent an attack from happening before it has a chance to occur. Additionally, wearing brightly colored clothing while out on the water could also help differentiate between humans and regular prey animals like seals or fish.


Humans have long feared the shark and for good reason. But why do some sharks seem to attack kayaks? Recent research suggests that curiosity may be the main factor in these attacks. 

Studies conducted on great white sharks indicate that they are attracted by the strange shape of a kayak and its splashing movements, prompting them to investigate further. The unfamiliarity of the vessel creates an interest in sharks that continues until they can get closer to it and examine it more closely. 

Due to their curious nature, sharks will sometimes mistakenly bite kayaks thinking they are prey or competing animals. This is especially likely if the person inside is obscured from view or making loud noises or splashing around with their paddles – behavior that can trigger predatory instincts in some species of shark.

Fortunately, most sharks turn back once they realize the kayak plastic in their mouth is not the tasty seal flesh they hoped for allowing the kayaker ample time to get to safety.

What kayak color attracts sharks?

Kayaking is a popular activity for those looking to experience the outdoors in an exciting way. But when out on the water, safety should always be a priority, and one of the key considerations should be being aware of what colors of kayaks may attract sharks. 

The short answer is that there is no definitive answer as to which color kayak might attract sharks more than another.

Many people believe that bright colors such as red or yellow may make you stand out more in the water and potentially draw sharks closer; however, this theory has not been tested or proven (besides, most sharks are colorblind).

Because of this, it’s important to take precautions with any kayak color regardless of whether it’s dark colored or brightly colored. 

It’s also important to remember that most shark attacks are generally due to mistaken identity rather than an aggressive attack from a hungry predator.

Can a shark sink a kayak?

Can a shark sink a kayak? It’s an age-old question that has been posed by curious adventurers for centuries. But can a shark really sink a kayak with its bite? The answer is more complicated than you may think. 

The truth is, it depends on the size and strength of the shark and the type of material used to construct the kayak. If a large, powerful species of shark were to take hold of a flimsy inflatable kayak in their mouth, then yes, they could potentially sink it.

However, if we’re talking about sturdier hardshell or composite materials like Kevlar or fiberglass, then it’s much more unlikely that they would be able to do so.

Can a shark capsize a kayak?

Can a shark capsize a kayak? It’s an alarming thought, especially for those who enjoy the serenity of paddling out on the open water. While it’s not impossible for a shark to capsize a kayak, it is highly unlikely. 

Most species of sharks are timid creatures that prefer to stay away from humans. Even if they were curious enough to take an interest in your kayak, their size would be too small to pose any real danger – most sharks measure less than five feet long.

Additionally, although some aggressive species such as great whites are larger, the power required to flip over a kayak far exceeds their strength and ability.

Safety tips for avoiding shark attacks

Kayaking is an increasingly popular way to explore and enjoy the ocean, but it is important to be aware of ways to stay safe from potential shark attacks. By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your kayaking adventure will remain a pleasant one. 

Avoid shark-prone areas

It is important to avoid shark-prone areas if possible. Areas with deep drop-offs, murky water, and large schools of fish are all signs that sharks may be present; so try to stay away from these areas or take extra precautions if you must enter them.

Also, if you don’t want to take the chance of meeting sharks, you can always kayak away from waters known to contain sharks.

Be vigilant

Always be aware of your surroundings when kayaking in open waters. Sharks are naturally curious creatures and may investigate paddlers if they enter their territory. If you see any signs of activity such as splashing or birds diving into the water, it’s best to turn back or move away quickly.

Additionally, pay attention to where you are entering the water; avoid areas with fish cages and other fishing activities that could attract sharks.

Read local shark reports

Kayaking is a popular activity among outdoor enthusiasts and beachgoers alike, but it also puts you at risk of encountering dangerous aquatic life. One of the most common threats is sharks, which can be unpredictable and highly aggressive.

To ensure your safety while kayaking, it’s important to read local shark reports before venturing out on the water. Most coastal towns or areas with regular kayaking activity will provide updated information about shark sightings in their area.

This information can come from local fisheries or private organizations that track marine life populations in the region. By reading these reports, you can find out if there are any current risks in the water due to sharks or other potentially hazardous marine creatures.

You should also pay attention to any warnings issued by local authorities, such as advisories for staying close to shore when paddling near known shark habitats.

Stay in your kayak

One mistake you definitely shouldn’t make when kayaking in shark-infested waters especially when you spot a shark is to leave the safety of your kayak.

Remember that the kayak is the shield that tells the shark that you are not food (generally after the shark takes a bite from it), so putting yourself in the water is an incredibly stupid move.

You should also avoid dangling your limbs over the side of your kayak as that will make you look more like a marine animal and prompt the shark to strike. If you are hot and must cool down, carry a small bucket or scoop up water with your paddle; it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Wear a life vest 

While a life vest won’t necessarily spare you from a shark attack, it can be the difference between life and death when push comes to shove.

The life vest provides an extra layer of material between your skin and the shark’s teeth, and in the case of capsizing or injury, your life vest will help keep you afloat. Remember to always wear your life vest when on the water.

Carry a first-aid kit 

Keeping in mind that most of the fatalities from kayak shark attacks resulted from being unable to stop bleeding from injuries sustained during the encounter with the shark, you should always carry a quality, waterproof first aid kit with you.

Carrying the kit is not enough, you should also know how to use it efficiently. If you intend to be spending a lot of time outdoors, you are advised to take a first aid course to be able to respond to any emergency that may arise.

Don’t be in the water at dawn or dusk

Recent studies have shown that many shark attacks occur during the morning or evening hours due to the natural feeding habits of sharks. Sharks prefer feeding at these times because they can easily spot their prey in the low light of dawn or dusk.

To stay safe, it is recommended that you avoid kayaking during these times, especially if you are alone or there is poor visibility in the water. 

Avoid hunting grounds 

To ensure that you stay safe while kayaking, it’s important to know how to avoid shark hunting grounds.

The first step is to research any potential areas you plan on kayaking before heading out on your trip. Pay particular attention to reports of shark sightings or beach closures due to increased shark activity in an area as this could indicate a hunting ground for these predators.

If you do find out about such a location, it’s best to avoid it completely and find another spot where there are fewer sharks present.

One other thing you can do is not linger in the littoral zones (generally within 100 feet of shore), as even in a place not plagued by sharks, this area is home to a lot of marine life that is food for other creatures.

Don’t kayak alone

Being in open waters can be a dangerous experience and when alone, one is more vulnerable to any kind of attack or danger. With sharks lurking in the ocean, it’s best to have someone else present so that if an attack were to happen you will have help getting back into your kayak or onto the shore.

Having another person also increases visibility which can deter sharks and prevent them from attacking in the first place.

Don’t splash your arms, legs, or paddles in the water 

A safety tip to keep in mind while kayaking to avoid a potential shark attack is not splashing your arms, legs, or paddles in the water, especially in shark-infested waters. Sharks are attracted to movement and will investigate any strange vibrations that they detect in the water.

While it may be tempting to splash or create waves for fun, these activities can easily draw the attention of nearby sharks. 

To stay safe while kayaking, it’s best to keep all parts of your body inside the vessel at all times. Additionally, try to paddle without making too much noise from slapping your paddle against the surface of the water as this can also attract sharks.

Shark attacks on kayakers are rare, but they do sometimes happen. Many factors can make kayaking in ocean waters more dangerous, such as being in the water at dawn or dusk and having open wounds. To stay safe while kayaking, be aware of local regulations and safety guidelines.

Make sure you paddle in a group, keep your distance from wildlife when possible, and check the local weather before heading out. It’s also important to remember that sharks are part of nature and should be respected in their environment.

Ultimately, the chances of you encountering a shark while kayaking are close to zero. You can either let the fear of the unknown keep you from enjoying kayaking to the fullest or get out there and have fun doing what you love.

Similar Posts