A possibly rabid otter attacked a group of kayakers in central Florida, biting and scratching a 77-year-old woman and ripping off part of her ear.
The boaters were paddling up the Braden River Sunday, enjoying a peaceful and sunny morning when a wild otter jumped on the kayak of Sue Spector, ran up her back and began clawing at her face, guide Marsha Wikle told InsideEdition.com.
“She was in the water, her husband was in the water and two other women were whacking the otter with their paddles,” Wikle said of the chaotic scene.
Wikle had been in the middle of the group when she heard five sharp whistle blasts from the kayaks in front of her. When she got to Spector, the woman was bleeding.
“He did serious damage to her nose,” Wikle said. “He bit off a piece of her ear.”
But Spector, and her 78-year-old husband, Marty, are experienced boaters and were very calm, the guide said. “They didn’t panic.”
Once the couple’s capsized boats were emptied of water, they got back in and the group headed for their launch site. Luckily, Wikle said, they’d only been on the water for about 10 minutes.
But they weren’t out of the woods yet.
“Within five minutes, the otter was chasing us,” Wikle said. “I just said, ‘Paddle like hell, everyone.'”
Back on shore, Marty Spector drove his wife to a nearby hospital, where she was given antibiotics to keep her wounds from becoming infected. She also received treatment for rabies.
Wikle spoke with with Florida Fish and Wildlife officers, who were already on the scene to answer a report made the previous day about an aggressive otter that tried to attack someone. Wikle and her group didn’t know about that incident when they shoved off Sunday morning.
“The attacks were about two miles apart,” Wikle said. Wildlife agents are searching for the otter and think it may be rabid, she said.
Meanwhile, Sue Spector is resting up and finishing her rabies shots.
“She said, ‘As soon as I’m able, I’m going to be back on the water,”’ Wikle recounted.