Paddling in a Responsible Way
11th April 2023
How you can enjoy the wonders of our native wildlife in a responsible way
One of the many joys of paddling is being able to get a little bit closer to some of the water based wildlife. From the fish swimming below you to the plants on the banks, the animals and plants you encounter on a paddle are widely diverse. But what wildlife might you see on the waters of Kent? And how can you be responsible when enjoying this wildlife?
What could you see?
Kent is one of the few counties that has both inland and coastal waterways that are prime for paddling on. This means that the range of wildlife is much greater. You may be able to spot both freshwater and saltwater fish, seabirds and tropical birds, and some sea giants if you’re lucky.
Starting in the water, Kent see’s so many fish in its rivers. One of the most impressive is the Atlantic Salmon that you might see leaping upstream to its spawning grounds. In the salt water the species you could encounter become even more impressive. From octopi to humpback whales, the waters off the Kent coast see all kinds of animals passing through.
If you look to the banks you might spot the minks that escaped captivity back in the 60’s and made Kent their home. The beaches along the coast are regular stops for colonies of seals. The plants on the banks give a brilliant backdrop to your paddle too. All year round there are wild flowers, shrubs, fungi, and trees that mesmerise all. Through the winter you can paddle alongside the Nordic Spruce trees that we have come to love at Christmas, in the spring you may see the brilliant pink cherry blossom, and in summer the Ash trees come out to play.
Looking up into the skies and you will see a plethora of birds. The rich blue flash of kingfishers as they dart up and down the rivers. If you keep your eyes peeled you could be in with a chance of spotting a parakeet flying around the trees. If you don’t see one you may well hear one as they are particularly noisy at times. Finally at the coast, nestled on the cliff faces, you could see a puffin!
Being responsible around wildlife
It is amazing that Kent has such a range of wildlife on offer, but it is important to be responsible and help protect it. There are a number of things you can do from the water to help protect the environment.
When getting on the water, avoid using shallow gravel beds. These are common places for fish to spawn, leaving their delicate eggs to hatch. So use deeper water to launch your craft wherever possible. Also try and keep your volume down low. By being quiet on the water you are less likely to disturb the wildlife, giving you a better chance of spotting the birds and bankside animals. Low volume will also keep the animals calm and less likely to flee their homes.
Finally, take all your rubbish with you and dispose of it properly. Don’t leave food wrappers, coffee cups, and other rubbish behind. Not only does it ruin the look of the environment, but it also is dangerous to the wildlife. Animals can eat rubbish left behind, plants can be tangled up in it, or chemicals from packaging can damage wildlife. Avoid polluting the water and banks, and look after the stunning wildlife of Kent.
To find out more about what you can do to protect wildlife, and simple ways to do so, have a look at British Canoeing’s Paddlers’ Code. This is a very easy set of guidelines for everyone to follow to help protect the areas we all love.