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May 08, 2012

Gator Attacks Fisherman in Kayak

The incident at a lake in central Florida was caught on video

No, it wasn’t in salt water — but the message is the same: It’s probably not a wise move to bring a small dog out on your kayak in waters where alligators are present.

Thomas Swiader was fishing peacefully along a tree-laden island in central Florida’s Lake Triplet last Wednesday with his girlfriend’s dog, Buffy, when a huge gator attacked his kayak.

“It literally came out of nowhere,” said Swiader, a striped bass fisherman who just moved to the Orlando area from Massachusetts only a few months back. “I’m guessing it was 8 feet long. It hit my arm so hard it was throbbing. I’m surprised I didn't go in, to tell you the truth.”

With a Contour HD video camera mounted to his head and rolling, he caught the entire incident on tape. The attack occurs at 0:19, with a slow-mo at 1:13 (Warning: Graphic language):




While Swiader didn’t go overboard, the force of the attack knocked the small dog from his boat. Luckily, its leash was tied to Swiader’s leg, and he quickly pulled the pooch back to safety before the gator could make another pass.

“I felt the leash jerk, and I saw Buffy was in the water,” he said. “I just threw her in the boat and got out of there. I’m guessing it either saw Buffy and had that natural instinct to attack or it just wanted me out of there. I’ve heard attacks are very rare, though.”

They are. But not when dogs are in the picture. Many fall prey to alligators in fresh and brackish waters each year in the Southeast United States. In fact, the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension even warns to “not allow dogs to swim or explore waters that are know to have alligators.”

Luckily for Swiader — and Buffy — things worked out OK this time.

But did he catch any fish?

“No, and I’ve fished that lake twice now,” Swiader said. “And I don’t think I’m going back!”