A North Carolina man was kayaking the Waccamaw River on the state’s southeastern coast on Sunday, July 12, when an alligator charged his kayak. Peter Joyce, who is an experienced paddler, was exploring a part of the river he hadn’t been to yet when the alligator rammed his kayak, flipping him over, he told WECT.
Luckily, Joyce was able to right his kayak quickly and paddle away, avoiding a more serious incident. The kayaker was wearing a camera and captured the entire incident on video, which he posted to YouTube:
Joyce Said He Only Got a Split-Second Warning & Had ‘No Time to React’
In an interview with WECT, Joyce said, “I thought I heard a fish jump to my left — turned out not to be a fish. About three feet from the kayak I made out the head of the gator and that was it, I had no time to react.” He added, “My mind was playing catch-up at that point. Basically, when I made out the head of the gator towards the front end of the kayak it was kind of just a state of shock. As soon as it hit the kayak and I went what just happened?”
In the video, the alligator is briefly visible before it strikes the kayak, flipping it over. Joyce said when his kayak overturned, he was able to grab a tree underwater to push himself back upright. He said if he didn’t have anything to grab, “I would have inverted. It could’ve been a lot worse.”
The video shows that when Joyce rights his kayak, there is no sign of the alligator and he’s able to paddle away. He said he felt it brush against the bottom of his kayak, so he hit the side a few times to try to scare it away. “That’s what I thought about was that the thing was going to go for a second hit or something,” he told CNN.
Joyce added that he was uninjured in the incident and his kayak wasn’t damaged either.
Experts Say Alligators Won’t Usually Attack Unless Provoked Or Defending Their Nest & Young
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission says it’s uncommon for alligators to attack humans, and those that occur are usually due to “people who deliberately provoke or harass them.” Female alligators can also be more aggressive during mating season and immediately after when they are protecting their nest and young. Mating season occurs during the months of May and June, according to the site.
Male alligators can grow to 12or 13 feet and weigh over 500 pounds while females generally grow to less than 9 feet. Joyce said, “I have a different appreciation of the animal. I mean once it comes after you one good time you look at it a little differently.”
Alligator biologist with the wildlife resources commission Alicia Davis told CNN the alligator in this incident was most likely also scared and took off after the collision. She said another possibility is that Joyce startled the alligator and it swam into the boat by mistake.