WaterTribe (adventures in small boats) has issued the following warning to participants of Everglades Challenge and Florida Ultimate Challenge:
Animal hazards are common. Within the last few years there have been several attacks on humans resulting in serious injury and/or death. These attacks have come from bears, cats, dogs, sharks, alligators, rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, coral snakes, sting rays, barracuda, spiders, bees, hornets, wasps, fire ants, ticks, and mosquitoes. Other dangerous or annoying critters, too numerous to mention, are also in abundance. As an expert you are expected to know how to counter these attacks and it is expected that you have an adequate first aid kit and that you know how to use it.
This warning doesn't mention non-native Burmese pythons growing in Everglades. Pythons are fighting with native alligators. If a 13' python can swallow a 6' alligator, what the 20' snake can do to a kayaker?
The origin of Burmese pythons in Florida habitats is the international pet trade -- more than 144,000 Burmese pythons have been imported to the U.S. in the past five years. The snake, usually sold for less than $20 when young, grow quickly and can attain a length of 20 feet. Many pet owners release their snakes go in the wild well before they reach this size. Burmese python today has an established populations in Florida's wildlands, where it eats native species and causes ecological damage.
Connie has e-mailed me another shocking picture: Pack of Dogs Kills Aligator in Florida.
Well, despite of these terrifying stories and despite of my shoulder problem, I have finally decided to race in the Ultimate Florida Challenge.