What To Do When You Encounter Marine Or Wild Animals While SUP

Stand up paddle boarding is a great way to get up close and personal with nature, have fun, and even explore marine life. For paddle boarding newbies , it's easy to get distracted by the water, or constantly having to focus on your stance and SUP techniques. But as you gain more confidence and start to be more aware of your surroundings, you'll be shocked at how much marine life you encounter on a regular SUP trip. 


Coming across marine life is one of the highlights of an adventurous SUP trip. However, what do you do when you encounter wild animals? Anything that happens to you while you're paddling is likely to be an entirely new experience. In most cases, you'll be paddling down a river and have very few alternatives for escaping a potentially dangerous situation. It's critical that you have a clear understanding on the do's and don’ts if such a situation were to ever occur.


Paddle boarding is one of the most enjoyable and low-stress eco-adventure activities that can be enjoyed in a variety of locations with stunning scenery and friendly competition. Even though paddle boarding is a lot of fun, there are a few things you can do to keep yourself and the people you’re exploring with safe and sound. If you’re going to be paddling close to islands, shorelines, or wildlife, take the following precautions:



Plan Ahead And Always Be At Alert


It’s critical that you do your homework before setting out on a paddle boarding expedition. There are several factors that influence animal behavior, such as the weather. A trip during the dry season, for example, will put you in contact with more wildlife because water is increasingly scarce. So, it’s important that you research into animal behavior. When they are most active, is it at night, during the day, at dusk or dawn, etc., so you may prepare to camp before they settle (i.e. if you’re going on a SUP camping trip). 


Determine what you want to do and where you want to go before you get in the water. Property boundaries, and potentially dangerous occurrences would all be included under this category. Keep in mind common-sense guidelines such as knowing your limits, not littering, and preparing for the unexpected. To avoid getting too close to wildlife, be aware of the buffer zones that have been established around the sites you intend to visit and adjust your route accordingly.


While on a SUP outing, always be on the lookout for wildlife such as alligators. Alligators can be dangerous and unpredictable creatures. While paddling, it’s critical to maintain a constant state of alertness in order to protect yourself, or you group from harm. Be cautious of your environment and tread carefully when paddling through swamps or wetlands because this is their habitat, and you are only a visitor. You must always be aware of your immediate surroundings. Again, you are just visiting, and it is critical that you exercise caution. Because you’re paddling a board, there’s a lot of space for error, so you need to be extra vigilant.


It's also important that you abstain from consuming any alcoholic beverages or medications that could impair your motor abilities. While it may only take a split second, this step is critical, since even a good experience can be ruined in an instant.



Be Extremely Quiet! You’re In The Wild


Avoid making noises or sudden movements that can entice wildlife. You will not receive any warnings from animals if you make a lot of noise. Moreover, they can agitate animals and cause them to become restless, which can lead to aggression. Keep your voice low, paddle slowly, and avoid sudden movements if you spot any wild animal. As you observe, keep your board’s bow turned away from them so as not to appear hostile or threatening. Make sure your paddle isn’t slamming into the paddle board or water, as this can trigger discomfort, and maybe lead to an attack.



Improve Your Listening Skills!


What are you talking about? Listening skills? Well, Yes! Excellent hearing skills are essential if you want to be able to tell the difference between, say, the breeze and the hiss of an alligator. By doing so, you’ll gain an upper hand and have more time to prepare for any close encounters.


What do you do when a wild animal approaches you while you’re on your paddle board?


Snakes are one of the creepiest creatures in the wild. You have to be extra vigilant, and careful when it comes to dealing with them. Note, that your board may be more enticing to snakes if it has any bright colors such as red, yellow, or orange.



What to do when you come across a snake while SUP


Do not get too close to a snake if you see one. As a matter of fact, if you encounter a snake, or anything that resembles one, do not attempt to touch it!  Although you may think you’re just being curious, but if the creature notices you, it is likely to strike in an act of self-defense.


In our opinion, most water snakes are not particularly dangerous if left alone and not made to feel threatened. If they perceive a threat on the other hand, they will put on a show and defend themselves. One of the best ways to protect yourself is to be well-informed.


Most water snakes are not venomous. Do a little research on the subject, and you’ll be able to distinguish a deadly water snake, from a non-venomous one. However, it’s best to avoid them all together. Remember to remain calm if you encounter one, and simply paddle away. And in case you get bitten, although the bite may be harmless, make sure you call for help and visit the clinic right away. You can never be too careful.



When dealing with Whales or Dolphins


Remember to always remain a safe distance away from any potential danger! When it comes to being around whales and dolphins, here are a few ground rules to follow:


  • Don’t feed or touch them, and keep your distance. As long as you’re on a board, don’t get too close to whales or dolphins.
  • Keep an eye out for mother whales or dolphins with their offspring and do not disturb them. 
  • If the behavior of a whale or dolphin suddenly changes, retreat slowly and immediately.
  • If you encounter a whale or dolphin, stay out of the water, and if possible, paddle back to shore. Do not harass, chase, or block the passage of a whale or dolphin.


Don’t Freak Out!


Panicking is a waste of time and might exacerbate the problem, so it’s best to avoid it at all costs. You will be unable to make quick decisions and respond appropriately if you are experiencing a panic attack. Before you do anything, maintain your composure and reassess the situation.


Finally, don’t try to sneak up on wildlife while you’re out in nature. Paddle boarding allows you to get up close and personal with a variety of wildlife that you might not otherwise encounter. Seeing these gorgeous animals in their native habitat may be fascinating and exhilarating, but they are still wild animals. Attempting to sneak up on or scare them is not advisable. To avoid putting yourself or others in harm’s way, don’t get too close to wild animals. They can be incredibly unpredictable.


In Conclusion


SUP is a wonderful way to connect with nature and relax your mind and body. While it’s a wonderful experience, it’s also necessary to be mindful and cautious. Also remember to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Remain mindful of the actions of animals. Keep your distance, observe briefly, and turn around gently if you come across any wild animal. Have fun!



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