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'Gator' Eats Woman in Florida; 2nd Thoughts about Kayaking on SC River

An alligator suns himself on a log in the Waccamaw River.

Most of the body of a missing woman was found Friday in a lake near where she was walking her dogs. Her arm was found inside an alligator that apparently was hunting for a tasty meal.

The grisly discovery was made in the Silver Lakes Rotary Nature Park about 25 miles north of Miami, according to police. A man saw her walking her dogs there, and then saw the dogs running loose, one of them injured. He called the police and “went to the area where he thought that they had been walking, and he immediately spotted an alligator,” said Detective Viviana Gallina.

The story was reported in The New York Times. You can read the details here.

Why am I telling you this?

Nearly two years ago we moved to Myrtle Beach, SC and I expected there would be plenty of spots to use my 10 ft. one-person fishing kayak and my larger canoe. I loved using both of them in Maryland, especially on Piney Run Lake that was just five minutes from my home.

Paddling on Piney Run Lake in Maryland.

From early spring through late fall, I paddled my kayak all over that lake, pausing in quiet coves, fishing for bass or any other fish that came along, photographing wildlife like beaver, geese, and a bald eagle that made his home in the woods surrounding this serene lake.

When I moved to South Carolina, I immediately began looking for a similar spot. The closest place that I found with public access is the Waccamaw River, about 25 minutes away. So I hired a guide to show me what paddling opportunities were available.

It was beautiful. The water appears black because of the black soil in this area, but it is actually clear. The fishing is good. Indeed, there are kayakers on the river and, in fact, there are signs directing paddlers as there are many quiet tributaries that can be explored.

There are also alligators.

And nasty water moccasins and other snakes, including rattlers.

But my guide told me not to worry. The alligators won't bother you unless you bother them, he said, and as for the snakes, just stay in your boat.

Uhhh, yea. Tell that to the woman in Florida who met up with an alligator while she walked her dogs.

So now it's my third summer here. I keep telling myself I'm going to get up on that river in my kayak, but Jackie doesn't want me to meet the same fate as that woman. There are plenty of people kayaking on the river, and I've not heard of anyone being attacked by a gator.

But still...

So far, my kayak -- and my canoe -- are still hanging in my garage. I wish I hadn't read that New York Times story.

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