The Shark Diving Diversity of the Bahamas

The Shark Diving Diversity of the Bahamas

 Shark diving in the Bahamas

 

The tropical Caribbean islands of The Bahamas may be famous for their beaches of endless soft sand and iridescent turquoise water, but below the tranquil surface of this idyllic destination, an exciting secret awaits. Divers and marine enthusiasts will agree that The Bahamas is one of the best places in the world to dive with sharks. Around 40 different species of shark have been recorded in The Bahamas’ 243,000 square miles of territorial waters, their healthy population unrivaled thanks to a 2011 country-wide ban on shark fishing. 

Shark experiences in The Bahamas are as varied as the diving itself, and which species you encounter will vary depending on where you dive. Regardless, any dive is likely to feature lemon sharks, Caribbean reef sharks, and blacktips, encouraged close to divers by the commonplace practices of chumming, bating, and hand-feeding. 

For more information on shark diving, check out our list of the Best Shark Diving in the World.

 

Here are some of our favorite shark diving experiences in The Bahamas.


Oceanic whitetips at Cat Island

These heavily fished sharks are more often encountered in the open ocean, however, the protected waters of The Bahamas have become a sanctuary for them in recent years. Populations are thriving around Cat Island, and drift diving with them off the island’s south coast is exhilarating. Whitetip season runs from March to September, and it’s not uncommon to encounter several sharks on every dive during this period. Operators suspend baited cages mid-water, attracting the sharks and providing a three-dimensional experience not encountered on many of the shallow-water feeding dives. As well as oceanic whitetips, divers are likely to spot Caribbean reef sharks, great hammerheads, nurse sharks, silkies, tiger sharks, dusky sharks, and blue sharks, as well as pelagic gamefish such as tuna, wahoo, and even marlin.

oceanic whitetip shark

Tiger sharks at Tiger Beach

It may be one of the more commercialized shark experiences in The Bahamas, but the tiger shark dives at West End in Grand Bahama are not to be missed. Twenty-seven miles off the northern tip of the island, at around 100 feet down, the flat sandy bottom and crystal clear water provides an ideal studio for capturing shots of the resident tiger shark population. Not just a few, but dozens of ‘friendly’ sharks arrive at Tiger Beach for dinner each day, hand-fed by experienced guides during carefully managed dives. The sharks are huge and come in close, making for fantastic photo opportunities. But it’s not just tiger sharks that show up for a free meal; dozens of lemon sharks and Caribbean reef sharks also make an appearance, as well as the occasional nurse shark or great hammerhead.

 

tiger shark bahamas



Caribbean reef sharks and Silky sharks at Nassau

Diving anywhere in The Bahamas, Caribbean reef sharks are likely to make an appearance, dark shadows on the edge of the reef on an endless patrol in search of their next meal. These timid sharks often appear as uninvited guests at feeding sessions, outnumbering the target species but rarely stealing the limelight. However, at Shark Arena on the southwest of Nassau, Caribbean reef sharks are the star of the show, and this most common shark in The Bahamas offers a great introduction to shark diving. On the eastern side of Nassau, 10 miles offshore, deepwater silky sharks gather to breed in the Lost Blue Hole. In June every year, hundreds of silkies congregate in seemingly-choreographed routines, a spectacular site for those who are lucky enough to get the timing right.

silky sharks

 

Great hammerheads at Bimini

Between December and April every year, the sheltered leeward waters of Bimini play host to aggregations of the great hammerhead shark. The largest of the 10 hammerhead species, these normally shy sharks travel from the cool waters of Californian to overwinter in the relatively warm Caribbean Sea. Diving with hammerheads at Bimini is a fairly new concept, and dives take place in the afternoon at a very shallow site only 5 minutes from shore. As with the Tiger Beach dives, a qualified guide baits the water, encouraging sharks in close to waiting divers and photographers kneeling on the bottom. This is one of the few places in the world where it is possible to get up close with a camera to these peculiar looking beasts. As well as providing a refuge for great hammerheads, Bimini is also home to lemon, nurse, and tiger shark nurseries, and bull sharks are often spotted close to shore.

hammerhead shark

 

With such a choice of shark experiences and diversity of species to discover, it’s no wonder The Bahamas is viewed by many as one of the best shark diving destinations in the world. However, globally shark numbers are declining, and where The Bahamas is a conservation success story, the same cannot be said for many other parts of the world.  Bluewater Travel works closely with Shark Allies, a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of sharks and rays. They hope to encourage other destinations to follow The Bahamas’ lead in protecting the vulnerable shark species that live around their coasts. You can support their work and find out more about what they do here.


Read more about diving in the Bahamas and get in touch with us to plan your next visit to the Bahamas. 

Check out the Bahamas Liveaboards here or Bahamas Dive Resorts here... 

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