An alligator knocks you into the water murky water with it. What do you do?
Kayaker Peter Joyce found himself in that heart-stopping predicament last weekend in a close encounter that he not only survived, but also managed to capture on video.
The incident happened near a dam on the Waccamaw River in Wilmington, N.C., according to his description of the video on YouTube. The incident appears to have been shot with a GoPro-style camera mounted on Joyce’s body.
The video shows Joyce paddling along the murky green river, which is lined by fallen trees and submerged logs, just before the attack.
“I thought I heard a fish jump to my left,” Joyce told local station WECT. “Turned out not to be a fish.”
Video shows the alligator was likely floating just below the surface to Joyce’s left when he paddled within a few metres of it. The reptile’s head suddenly pops above the water and the gator surges forward, making a V-shaped wave and a rushing sound as it speeds toward the kayak.
“About three feet from the kayak I made out the head of the gator and that was it. I had no time to react,” Joyce told WECT. “My mind was playing catch-up.”
Joyce can be heard cursing in the video, then the gator hits the kayak and it flips over into the murky water.
The video shows nothing but dark water and bubbles for a few desperate seconds, then Joyce brings himself, the boat and the camera above the surface again.
Joyce sits still in the kayak, turning left and right to look for the alligator. He can be heard trying to calm his breathing. A few seconds later he grabs his paddle and tries to navigate the kayak around a fallen branch, then he resumes paddling along the river.
He says he’s lucky to have survived the encounter, and lucky that the alligator did not show its scaly face again.
“It could’ve been a lot worse,” Joyce said.
He added that his kayak didn’t completely go over because he managed to grab a fallen tree and right himself with it.
Joyce is an experienced paddler who’s encountered alligators before, but he says he’s never seen one charge at him as quickly as this one did.
“Usually they make a splash or move and make a ruckus in the water,” he said.
“It definitely made me think a little bit differently (about) what their capabilities are.”