Do Sharks Bother Kayaks?

bunch of sharks and a kayak


You’re out on the water in your kayak, enjoying the peacefulness and serenity of the ocean. Suddenly, the thought crosses your mind: do sharks bother kayaks? It’s a valid concern, especially with the media’s frequent portrayal of shark attacks. In this article, we’ll explore whether sharks pose a real threat to kayakers, what factors may influence their behavior around kayaks, and how to minimize your risk of a shark encounter.

Do sharks generally attack kayaks?

Sharks are often misunderstood creatures, and their interactions with humans are typically blown out of proportion. Let’s take a closer look at some of the misconceptions and reasons behind shark attacks.

2.1. Misconceptions about shark attacks

Shark attacks on humans are extremely rare, despite the fear they instill in people. According to the International Shark Attack File, the odds of being attacked by a shark are about 1 in 11.5 million. Moreover, very few of these attacks involve kayaks or canoes.

2.2. Reasons for shark attacks

Sharks are not naturally inclined to attack humans. Most shark attacks are a case of mistaken identity. Sharks often mistake swimmers or surfers for their usual prey, like seals or fish. In the case of kayaks, the shape and movement of the vessel could potentially resemble prey to a shark.

Factors influencing shark behavior around kayaks

There are several factors that could increase the likelihood of a shark interacting with a kayak. These include:

3.1. Location

Certain areas are known for having higher shark populations, such as South Africa, Australia, and some parts of the United States. Kayaking in these areas may increase the chances of encountering a shark.

3.2. Time of day

Sharks are often more active at dawn and dusk, so kayaking during these times might increase the likelihood of encountering one.

3.3. Presence of bait or food

If there is an abundance of fish or marine life in the area, sharks might be drawn to it. This includes areas where fishermen are cleaning their catch, as the scent of blood and fish may attract sharks.

Tips to reduce the risk of shark encounters while kayaking

There’s no foolproof way to avoid sharks while kayaking, but there are some precautions you can take to minimize the risk.

4.1. Avoid known shark hotspots

Do your research before heading out and stay away from areas known for high shark populations or recent shark activity.

4.2. Be mindful of the time

Plan your kayaking trips during the day, avoiding early morning and late afternoon hours when sharks are more likely to be active.

4.3. Avoid wearing shiny jewelry

Sharks can be attracted to shiny objects, as they can resemble fish scales. Remove any shiny jewelry before kayaking to reduce the risk of attracting a shark.

4.4. Don’t paddle alone

Kayaking with a group can help deter sharks, as they are less likely to approach a group of kayakers than a solitary one.

4.5. Don’t panic and thrash around

If you happen to see a shark, remain calm and avoid any sudden or erratic movements. Splashing around could make you seem like distressed prey and attract the shark.

What to do if a shark approaches your kayak

In the rare event that a shark comes near your kayak, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself.

5.1. Stay calm and assess the situation

First and foremost, try to stay calm. Observe the shark’s behavior to determine if it is curious or aggressive.

5.2. Maintain a defensive posture

Face the shark and keep your paddle between you and the animal. This can create a barrier and signal to the shark that you are not prey.

5.3. Use your paddle as a deterrent

If the shark gets too close, gently push it away with your paddle. Avoid hitting the shark, as this could provoke it.

Additional Tips for Kayaking Safely in Shark-Infested Waters

While we’ve already discussed several ways to minimize the risk of encountering a shark while kayaking, there are a few more tips you can follow to ensure your safety in shark-infested waters:

6.1. Choose a brightly-colored kayak

Although there is no definitive evidence suggesting that sharks are attracted to specific kayak colors, choosing a brightly-colored kayak may make you more visible to other boaters, which could be helpful in the event of an emergency.

6.2. Keep your hands and feet inside the kayak

When kayaking in areas with a known shark presence, avoid dangling your hands or feet in the water, as this may attract sharks.

6.3. Stay close to the shore

In general, sharks are more likely to be found further out in the ocean. Staying close to the shore can reduce the risk of an encounter, but always be aware of the local shark populations and recent activity.

6.4. Pay attention to local advisories

Before heading out on your kayaking adventure, check for any local advisories, warnings, or shark sightings in the area. This information can help you make informed decisions about where and when to kayak.

6.5. Invest in shark deterrent technology

There are a few shark deterrent technologies available on the market, such as electronic devices that emit an electric field designed to repel sharks. While these devices may not be 100% effective, they could provide an additional layer of protection.

In Summary

Kayaking in shark-infested waters can be a thrilling experience, but it’s essential to take precautions to ensure your safety. By staying informed about local shark activity, choosing the right equipment, and following the tips provided in this article, you can minimize your risk of encountering a shark while enjoying your time on the water.


While the thought of encountering a shark while kayaking can be frightening, the risk is extremely low. By being aware of the factors that influence shark behavior and taking precautions to minimize your chances of an encounter, you can safely enjoy your time on the water. Remember to stay calm, be prepared, and always respect the ocean and its inhabitants.


  1. Do sharks attack kayaks more than other watercraft? No, shark attacks on kayaks are rare, and there is no evidence to suggest that they target kayaks more than other watercraft.
  2. Are certain types of sharks more likely to approach kayaks? Bull sharks, great whites, and tiger sharks are responsible for the majority of shark attacks on humans, but it is important to remember that such attacks are extremely rare.
  3. Can the color of my kayak attract sharks? There is no definitive evidence that sharks are attracted to specific kayak colors. However, it is a good idea to avoid high-contrast colors, as they could potentially resemble prey.
  4. Should I be worried about sharks if I’m kayaking in shallow water? Sharks can sometimes be found in shallow water, but the risk of encountering one while kayaking is still very low. Follow the safety tips mentioned in this article to further reduce your risk.
  5. What should I do if I accidentally hook a shark while fishing from my kayak? If you accidentally hook a shark while fishing from your kayak, it is best to cut the line and release the shark. Do not attempt to bring the shark onto your kayak, as this could be dangerous for both you and the animal.