Kayaking into a Dolphin Feeding Frenzy

Kayaking with dolphins

The area in Charlotte Harbor where I paddled into a dolphin feeding frenzy. This pic was taken while I was out in my blue racing kayak. I didn't dare get out my camera while I was in the midst of the dolphins that day.

Mother and baby dolphin

A mother dolphin and her baby.

Charlotte Harbor has thousands of dolphins, so they are a common sight when out boating. Once when I was paddling my Klepper foldable kayak from the Port Charlotte Beach Complex westward along the shore toward the mouth of the Myakka River, I spotted some splashing activity in the water ahead. As I approached, I could see that it was a pod of dolphins, actively feeding on the baitfish in the shallow water ahead. They work as a team, herding the bait and then striking one or two at a time.

I paddled toward the action. Soon I was in the area they were working, and dolphins were zipping all around me, making huge wakes and swirls like fast, miniature submarines as they sped around in the shallow water. The water was a bit murky, especially with all the feeding activity, but I could tell where they were by the wakes. I have seen them play, and been impressed by their speed and agility in the water, but they really turn it on when it's feeding time. These dolphin were going FAST, turning hard, flinging water as parts of them and their prey broke the surface when they struck.

Second Thoughts

As I got into the center of the activity, it occurred to me that they were navigating and hunting by sonar, and I was in a boat with a wooden frame and a hypalon rubber and marine canvas skin. Wood and rubber don't reflect sound waves very well, so I probably looked like a black hole in the water to them as I drifted around. They are large, fast, powerful creatures, and as a couple of them came particularly close, I suddenly realized that one of them might accidentally reduce the wooden frame of my folding kayak to splinters.

I started maneuvering around, splashing with my wooden kayak paddle blades as I went. They didn't seem to like that very much and moved on down the shore away from me. I think that next time I'll not get quite so close to the center of the action.

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