Not all kayaking lovers have the same likings and aspirations! There are people who love kayaking in the artificial lakes or small water bodies as they want to play it safe. However, there exist people who prefer kayaking in open waters, in large rivers and oceans. When you choose to kayak in the sea, encounters with marine wildlife is inevitable. It can be risky sometimes and you have to be prepared. There can be sharks as well as the Orca whales. The Orcas are a kind of dolphins though they are classified as whales. These majestic whales can weigh 6 tons or so and watching them close by while paddling in the ocean can be a mindboggling experience.
Do The Orcas Attack Kayaking Humans?
Orcas do hunt other fish and marine animals but biologists think they do not target humans as potential prey. Humans simply do not resemble their preferred type of food in water. They target animals like seals, Chinook salmon, sea lions. In open water, Orcas are often seen swimming playfully around people and they possibly feel curious about the newfound aquatic companions.
While the Orcas are unlikely to target your kayak or you in water, getting too close to these huge- sized marine creatures is not recommended. An adult Orca can be as long as 32 feet and if the animal is not aware of the kayak around its body, it can turn it over, unknowingly.
Assessing The Risk Factors Of Kayaking With Orcas Around
While the orcas are often called killer whales, they do not target humans as their prey. However, their massive dimension can prove to be risky for the kayakers, if they are not careful.
Where Are The Spots Where I Can Indulge In Kayaking While Orcas Are Around?
Orcas are found in many parts of the Oceans but there are a few regions where you can find these whales in large numbers. These are:
- Johnstone Strait, Canada
- Tysfjord, Norway
- San Juan Islands, Washington
- Monterey Bay, California
Ensuring You Do Not Disrupt The Atmosphere
When you kayak in ocean, you essentially invade into the marine ecosystem, albeit temporarily. Resident orcas are usually not affected much by humans kayaking around them but that does not mean you should not exercise precautions. It is prudent to keep a certain distance from a group of Orcas or a single Orca.
What About The Legal Issues?
Kayaking in ocean is not illegal but you have to be aware of the region. As per the U.S. Federal Regulations, any aquatic vessel should not come within 200 yards of these whales. In the State of Washington, boat users including kayak users have to stay 300 yards away from the Orcas at all times. If you are using a motorized kayak, it would be necessary to turn off the engine if the Orcas get closer.
How To Stay Safe When You Are Kayaking With Orcas Being Around?
When you are enjoying kayaking in ocean and there is a group of Orcas around, you have to be careful. You should watch their activities. If the orcas are targeting their preys, you should not be in the way. This will help you evade unwanted collisions with these gigantic marine animals. It is better if you do not try to woo an orca by offering food.
If you are kayaking in a group, it makes sense to stay in close proximity on the water when the orcas are around. This will help the whales spot the kayaks easily and they will not get too close. Orcas with babies act somewhat cautiously.
It is important that you limit your kayak movements once you spot the orcas. Fast kayak movements around can make the whales stressed, sometimes. It is better that you slow down the kayaks or stay still on kayak for a few minutes and watch the gentle marine giants swimming around, playfully. After some time, gently paddle away from the area.
Arthur G. Moore is a veteran paddler. He has over 10 years of whitewater kayaking experience in his kitty. When he was young, he used to love kayaking in rapid III and rapid IV but as time went on, he decided to concentrate mainly on covering long distances on a standard touring kayak. He is currently working as a senior editor for Kayak Manual.