ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – A kayaker who collided with a shark in the Matanzas Inlet in St. Johns County over Labor Day weekend caught the hair-raising encounter on video.
Drew Trousdell’s GoPro camera captured footage of the predator coming after him twice in less than 30 seconds.
Trousdell, a kayak instructor, said he didn't realize how scary the situation could have been until later.
"It wasn't until I hit the beach and really considered the severity of it and the lack of my preparedness that it really kind of set in,” he said. “Had it been the hand versus the paddle, it could have gone a lot different."
Trousdell, who came from Virginia to visit his father for Labor Day Weekend, decided to get out on the water the morning after Hermine passed through and attached a GoPro camera to the front of his kayak.
He said he doesn’t always bring it out, but he had it charged up and wanted to bring it out during his trip on the inlet.
"I had to paddle out a little bit farther than I normally would to catch the bigger waves, and that's kind of where it happened in the middle of the channel, probably about a quarter-mile offshore,” Trousdell said.
Trousdell, an American Canoe Association Level 4 coastal kayaking open water instructor, said he’s visited the area at least 50 times, but he’s never experienced anything like what happened next.
"I have encountered orcas. I've encountered humpbacks. I've encountered bears, alligators, and I've seen sharks at Matanzas as I've surfed there, much bigger sharks than this guy, but generally speaking, they don't seem to pay much attention to you,” Trousdell said.
This time, one did.
Trousdell's camera captures a flash of a fin and then a large thump reverberates through the kayak. He said that within seconds he realized what hit him.
"You don't expect to hit anything heavy, and it hit me hard and quick, and it took a minute to reconcile that it had to be a fish obviously, but what else would attack like that and, immediately, a shark came to mind,” Trousdell said.
Trousdell can be seen in the video looking at his paddle, trying to get a better idea of the magnitude of the creature that propelled itself at his kayak.
"My heart started to beat, and you could see from the video, it was a look of disbelief,” he said. “I'm like, 'What the heck was that?'"
Then about 15 seconds later, the shark strikes again. Trousdell said he believes it was about a 5-foot blacktip shark.
"What surprised me was when I actually paddled away a little bit, and he came back around again, because it was pretty clear once he had the paddle in his mouth, it's not what he wanted, so I was surprised when he came back after it again,” Trousdell said.
Trousdell said that on that trip, he didn’t have a radio, a signaling device, a first aid kit or a backup paddle on him. But now, he makes sure he has all his supplies with him on every trip.