The first 48 seconds of Pete Joyce's video showing him leisurely kayaking in North Carolina's Waccamaw River are as peaceful as can be, punctuated only by the sounds of his oar dipping into the water. Then, at 0:49, something disturbs the water near the shoreline in the upper-left part of the frame, then starts rushing toward Joyce's kayak. That something was an alligator, per NBC News, and within seconds, it slammed into his vessel and flipped it over, the video camera strapped to Joyce's chest capturing the sounds of bubbles and struggling as he went under the water. Joyce managed to right himself within five seconds or so, and after about 40 seconds of catching his breath and disentangling himself from the branches his kayak was caught in, he started paddling out of the area, much more furiously this time.
"I thought I heard a fish jump to my left—turned out not to be a fish," he tells WECT, adding to NBC that "the video doesn't show how hard the impact was." He credits the nearby tree branches for saving him, telling WECT that "if ... there was nothing to grab on the right side of me, I would have inverted. It could've been a lot worse." He says he also could still feel the alligator under his kayak after righting himself, so he hit his kayak several times to scare it away. Even though Joyce has seen gators before while kayaking, with no trouble, a North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission biologist tells CNN it's the end of mating season, and gators are guarding their young, making them more aggressive. Luckily, Joyce wasn't injured, and his kayak sustained no damage. But "I have a different appreciation of the animal" now, he says. (Read more North Carolina stories.)