epic tiger shark diving expeditions
shark diver oceainc whitetip

Bahamas Shark Tourism Survey

The Cape Eleuthera Institute has recently begun an assessment of the economic value of sharks and rays in The Bahamas.  The study is aiming to update a previous assessment of the tourism value of shark diving, as well as expand the assessment to be more comprehensive of other sectors that receive broad economic benefits from sharks, such as the Film and Television sector, NGOs working on education and outreach, non-dive related tourism, as well as research institutions that benefit from shark populations in the area.

Part of the study involves conducting diver surveys, the responses of which will provide valuable information to inform resource management decision making. They hope to understand tourists’ motivations for diving in the Bahamas, their feelings about diving with sharks, their level of dive experience, and their expenditures, amongst other things.

The diver survey can be found online and should take less than 10 minutes to complete.  We will be have surveys available for guests during upcoming trips.

If you have traveled to the Bahamas for shark diving related tourism, please take the short time to complete the survey.  Your answers will greatly help The Cape Eleuthera Institute obtain an accurate assessment of the value of sharks in the Bahamas!

Have a read on another publication: Shark Diving Tourism in Malaysia

great hammerhead shark diving in bimini

Bahamas Shark Diving

From the ubiquitous caribbean reef sharks and nurse sharks to the larger than life tiger sharks, to the ultra rare great hammerhead and oceanic whitetip sharks, the Bahamas has it all.  While there are chances to see sharks at each of the islands, some of the highly sought after encounters can be reliably found at certain times of year, at certain locations. 

Tiger Shark Diving:

tiger shark diving on the reefs of tiger beach

While it’s possible to find tiger sharks off the coast of many Bahamian islands, Tiger Beach off the northern tip of Grand Bahama Island is world famous for these encounters, and for good reason.  The dive conditions here are some of the best for shark encounters and hard to beat for photographers.  Generally, dives with tiger sharks are done in shallow water, typically around 20-30 feet deep.  The ambient light is plentiful and the sharks come close, ideal conditions for underwater photography.  The tiger sharks are here year round, but seem to build in numbers over the winter months.  Divers can expect to seen anywhere from one to a dozen or more of these magnificent predators surrounded by countless caribbean reef and lemon sharks.  And there’s a lot more than just the classic sandy bottom of Tiger Beach.  This area of the Little Bahama Bank also offers some incredible reef diving with loads of life like turtles, eels, grouper and stingrays.  The reefs are typically a bit deeper, starting off at depths around 40 feet.  They offer an array of colorful backgrounds for the “men in the grey suit.”  A bit further North, Sugar Wreck is also a favorite of guests.  It’s very shallow, around 15 – 20 feet deep, and covering in marine life.  It’s a great spot for both diving and snorkeling.

Great Hammerhead Shark Diving:

bahamas shark diving great hammerhead biminiBefore the world knew about Bimini’s great hammerheads, encounters with this species was generally rare, brief, and unreliable.  That has all changed.  Each winter and early spring season brings large numbers of these magnificent sharks right off Bimini’s shores and for the first time, divers can book excursions dedicated to seeing this species.  The largest of all the hammerhead sharks, these guys can reach reported lengths of 20 feet.  Their huge dorsal fin is reminiscent of an orcas, towering above their bodies.  Like tiger beach, the dives here are also shallow, allowing for extended bottom times.  Nurse sharks are present on almost every dive and bull sharks tend to make an appearance as well.

Oceanic Whitetip Shark Diving:

oceanic whitetip shark diving

The oceanic whitetip is a pelagic species and was once considered the most numerous marine animal over one hundred pound in the worlds oceans.  Unfortunately, they have suffered dramatic declines over the past 5 decades and are now quite rare.  Cat Island is one of the last hotspots to find this species, and truly the only location to book a trip dedicated to seeing them.  During the spring months, female oceanics congregate in the deep water just offshore.  Encounters with the oceanics are done as blue water drift dives.  Divers can expect to see oceanic whitetip sharks and also have the opportunity to see a variety of other pelagic species, such as silky sharks, dusky sharks, mahi mahi, tuna, and even blue marlin.

The Bahamas takes pride in it’s shark ecotourism and understands the important role sharks play in their ocean environment.  Building on the long line ban in 1992, the Bahamas created a shark sanctuary in 2011 protecting sharks against any commercial use in the nearly 250,000 square miles of ocean surrounding the country.  Whether your thinking of adding a few shark dives to your logbook, or are an experienced shark diver and/or photographer, the islands of the Bahamas has some of the best big animal encounters around.

discovery channel shark week

Shark Week 2015 on Discovery Channel

The series originally premiered on Discovery Channel on July 17, 1988 and has since become the longest running cable television programming event in history.  The series was originally developed to raise awareness for sharks, but has come under recent criticism for abandoning this goal in favor of sensationalist programming.  At it’s peak, the network faced some major backlash after 2014’s lineup which featured a few “mockumentaries” that fooled some of the general public into believing the shows were factual.  This year, the network has promised to return to it’s original mission and has a new focus on awareness, conservation, and scientific research.  Here’s the line-up.

Shark Trek

Premiered Sun Jul 5 8/7c
Shark researcher Greg Skomal and engineers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution go on a mission to find great white sharks in Florida, which seem to be increasing. It’s the largest study of Atlantic great whites.

Island of the Mega Shark

Premiered Sun Jul 5 9/8c
Join shark experts Andy Casagrande, Jeff Kurr and Dickie Chivell at Guadalupe Island, Mexico on their mission to film the largest great white shark…ever. Many believe that the largest great whites congregate at this great white hot spot.

Monster Mako

Premiered Sun Jul 5 10/9c
The mako shark is know to be the fastest shark in the ocean, but their top speed remains a mystery.  In this show, marine biologists work to solve the mystery, while a second team aims to show that mako sharks, like great whites, are ambush predators that breach as part of their hunting strategy.

Return of the Great White Serial Killer

Premiered Mon Jul 6 9/8c
Mystery surrounds Surf Beach in California, where shark attacks have plagued beach goers on a two year cycle since 2008.   As the fateful month of October 2014 closes in researches explore if  the attacks happen again, could it be the same shark, and if DNA can identify the great white shark responsible?

Alien Sharks: Close Encounters

Premiered Mon Jul 6 10/9c
Deep below the ocean’s surface live some of the strangest marine animals on earth. Now, three expeditions are exploring those depths for sharks that glow in the dark. They are hoping for a close encounter in the strange domain of alien sharks.

Bride of Jaws

Premieres Tue Jul 7 9/8c
Off the Western Australia coast lurks a huge female great white shark, named “Joan of Shark.”  Reported to be nearly 18 feet and over 3,000 pounds, three shark experts follow an extraordinary 4,000-mile migratory path to find and tag her.

Tiburones: Sharks of Cuba

Premieres Tue Jul 7 10/9c
Continuing the hunt for mega sharks, a team of researchers head to Cuba to search for evidence of a population of large white sharks 70 years after the largest great white ever recorded, a 23 ft. Great White named “The Cuban” was caught off the coast.

Shark After Dark

Premieres Tue Jul 7 11/10c
Join filmmaker Joe Romeiro and shark enthusiast Eli Roth for the return of everyone’s favorite late-night shark-themed talk show: Shark After Dark. Sunday through Thursday at 11/10c, Eli will be joined by actors, comedians, shark scientists and other surprise guests.

Super Predator

Premieres Wed Jul 8 9/8c
Wildlife filmmaker Dave Riggs goes on a search for the predator that ate a 9-foot great white off the coast of Australia.

Ninja Sharks

Premieres Wed Jul 8 10/9c
The ocean is a cruel place—full of predators driven to survive. But at the apex of the food chain are six swift and deadly sharks. These stealthy assassins exploit prey with specialized adaptations, making them the most fearsome predators on the planet.

Shark Planet

Premieres Thu Jul 9 9/8c
From the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean, to the tropical seas of Indonesia, researchers are getting closer to sharks than ever before. Join us on an epic journey around the globe documenting groundbreaking new research into these long misunderstood animals.

Sharks of the Shadowland

Premieres Fri Jul 10 9/8c
Mysterious sharks threaten government divers in remote New Zealand waters. Attack survivor Jenny Oliver and researcher Kina Scollay are on a quest to find out if the mysterious sevengill sharks are targeting divers…and are they hunting in packs?

Shark Clans

Premieres Fri Jul 10 10/9c
Fifty years ago, Rodney Fox barely survived a great white shark attack. Now he is trying to help sharks survive mankind’s increasing pressure upon the oceans. Join Rodney and his team as they study and tag great whites off the coast of South Australia.

Sharksanity 2

Premieres Sat Jul 11 9/8c
We scoured the seas to bring you the greatest moments from Shark Week 2015! Only the closest calls, biggest bites and greatest gadgets made the cut. Then, we’re revealing your top picks for the best moments in Shark Week history.

Shark Island

Premieres Sun Jul 12 8/7c
In a remote corner of the Indian Ocean, Reunion Island has become the most dangerous place on the planet for shark attacks. After 7 deaths in 4 years, locals and scientists are in a race against time to find answers before another fatal encounter.

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For more information and videos, check out Discovery Channel’s Shark Week webpage.

Oceanic Whitetip Shark and Pilot Fish cat island bahamas

Goodbye Cat Island…until 2016

Cat Island has always been a very special place for us! It’s one of those far away, sparsely populated and undeveloped islands in the central Bahamas. While Cat is just a 45 minute flight from Nassau, it’s worlds away. You won’t find any big resorts and no casinos on the island, but it’s home to some amazing things. The reefs and walls off Cat Island show of some of the Bahamas healthiest marine ecosystems. The drop off is steep, dramatic, and virtually unexplored. But for us, diving with the oceanic whitetip sharks is the major draw. Both incredibly reliable and incredibly rare, the oceanics aggregate around Cat Island each spring giving you your best chance to see this species flourish! They’re here in numbers, the majority of the sharks are female, and a good percentage of them are pregnant. We do see males throughout the year, but only a handful of individuals. We get to see the same oceanics whitetip sharks year after year, and meet new ones on any given day each season.

oceanic whiteitp shark heals from wound

Bolt heals with amazing speed

This year, we saw some of our favorites back again and met a few really cool sharks. Our oldest shark, Bolt, came back yet again. She appears to be the oldest oceanic whitetip we’ve seen on Cat Island. Not only has she been back to Cat year after year, she was also documented by the BBC off Cat Island back in 2006. Last year she was pregnant and this year she did not seem to be. She moves slow and her eyes appear darkened or “rusted” around the center while all the other oceanics have very light colored eyes. She gets her name from the lightning bolt marking on the right side of her tail fin. The lower part of the marking actually wraps under the tail and can be seen slightly on the left side. This year, we saw her suffer a large but superficial wound on her right flank. Looked pretty concerning at first, but after seeing her heal up so rapidly, we were amazed at how she just “shook it off”.

We saw another dozen or so repeat sharks from previous seasons. There were 4 males this year, and one of them was the largest male we have seen, by far. Typically, the males seem smaller and younger. He was even larger than the average female.

We also had incredible encounters with a variety of species. Drifting in the blue always give you the chance to see something surprising. We started off with a great hammerhead, tiger shark and blue marlin in just the first week! Throughout the season, we were lucky enough to see several blue marlin, mahi mahi, tuna, a blue shark, silky sharks, reef sharks, nurse sharks, dusky sharks, blacktips, and even dolphin! It’s like drifting through space.

We had our hopes up to come across Atlas, the dusky shark from the 2014 season. Atlas was recovering nicely from deep wounds caused by a rope he got stuck in. You can read more about Atlas in our blog. Unfortunately, he was a no-show this year, but we wish him well and hope to see him again.

We’ll miss Cat Island, but already have our sights on the 2016 season! We’ve started filling the calendar and hope to see some of our favorite sharks, and you! Learn more about our oceanic whitetip shark diving trips on our site.

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diver with great hammerhead shark in bimini

Epic Shark Diving Expeditions

Are you considering adding some shark dives to your logbook? Have you always wondered what it would be like to swim alongside the ocean’s top predator? Perhaps you are an experienced shark diving looking for your next encounter. Epic Diving offers some of the best shark diving opportunities in the world, conveniently located in the warm, clear waters of the Bahamas. After a thorough shark diving safety briefing, you’ll enjoy encounters with some of the top species of sharks. Take a look at our packages:

Great Hammerhead Shark Diving – Starting in January of each year, we are located in Bimini, Bahamas for the great hammerhead shark diving season! Here, divers can expect to see several of these majestic sharks alongside a number of nurse sharks, and the occasional bull shark. Dives are done in shallow water, typically around 20 feet deep.

Oceanic Whitetip Shark Diving – In March, we move to Cat Island, one of the family islands located in the central Bahamas. During this time of year, large numbers of Oceanic Whitetip Sharks migrate to the crystal clear blue water off Cat Island and can been seen on every dive! Most of the sharks are females and many of them are pregnant. Most of the diving is done as a drift, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. Make sure you look all around since you never know what else may show up while drifting in the blue. We often see mahi mahi, tuna, blue marlin and several other shark species, like blue, dusky, silky, and reef! In between dives, you’ll have the opportunity to snorkel with the sharks for some close up interaction.

Tiger Shark Diving – For the remainder of the year, we are located on the West End of Grand Bahama Island and go out daily for dives at the world famous Tiger Beach. Like the great hammerhead shark dives off Bimini, the typical dive at Tiger Beach is done on shallow water with a sandy bottom. There are also some incredible reefs at Tiger Beach where reef and lemon sharks always accompany the tigers.

Whether you’re an experienced shark diver, photographer, or someone who’d like to see sharks up close for the first time, our dive team will show you a week of incredible adventures with the ocean’s top predators. Contact us today to book your space, pack your dive gear, and get ready for an experience you’ll never forget!

divers alert network dive accident insurance

Do you really need dive accident insurance?

We highly recommends that divers carry DAN or other equivalent dive accident insurance for our dive expeditions in the Bahamas.  Our diving at each location is far from complete medical care and all but minor injuries would require evacuation off island for treatment.  Having dive accident insurance can be a huge money saver, as well as a life saver.  Here’s some information from DAN.

Do I really need dive accident insurance?  I have primary medical coverage

Your primary medical insurance may exclude scuba diving as a hazardous recreational activity and/or may not provide coverage when you are traveling out of the country. If it does provide coverage, it may pay only a minimal amount for chamber treatments. There are also often large out-of-pocket payments for deductibles and co-pays. These alone can total thousands of dollars.

The DAN Dive Accident Insurance Plans are recognized worldwide and can be confirmed 24 hours a day through the DAN Emergency Hotline (+1-919-684-9111). The DAN plans provide secondary coverage of up to $500,000 and pay 100% of eligible expenses.

What do Dive Accident Insurance Benefits Cover?

Medical Dive Accident Coverage

Covered charges include the reasonable and customary cost of medically necessary services and supplies provided for the care and treatment of a Covered Diving Accident when prescribed, performed or ordered by a Physician. This includes:


    • Hyperbaric Chamber Treatment

    •  Physician’s Charges for Hyperbaric Chamber Treatment medical care and surgical operations

    •  Ambulance transportation by ground, air or marine ambulance services to the nearest Hospital or Hyperbaric Chamber where prescribed care or treatment can be given

    • Hospital charges

Accidental Death and Dismemberment

This coverage is for loss resulting from a Covered Diving Accident.

Permanent & Total Disability

Permanent Total Disability must result from a Covered Diving Accident. Permanent Total Disability means that an Insured Person is unable to perform the substantial and material duties of any occupation, if employed, or if retired, all of the normal activities for a person of like age and sex in good health.

Extra Transportation Costs

If an insured person is prevented from using their purchased ticket to return home based on the written advice of the attending Physician because of a Covered Diving Accident, the coverage pays for the cost of transportation for the return trip home.

Extra Accommodation Costs

If an insured person is delayed from returning home based on the written advice of the attending Physician because of a Covered Diving Accident, the coverage pays the cost of extra accommodations for the duration of the delay.

Loss of Diving Equipment

Coverage is for diving equipment that is worn on the diver’s person that is “cut loose” and is lost or damaged as a result of a Covered Diving Accident. This coverage excludes watches, torn straps or buckles, or photographic equipment.

DAN also offers dive trip/travel and equipment insurance which is also a great idea.  This type of coverage could help recover costs from lost diving days due to luggage or flight delays, damage and even inclement weather.

Looking for more information on Dive Specific Insurance coverage?  Check out this post on Dive Travel Insurance, which provides coverage for travel and weather related trip interruptions.

oceanic whitetip shark cat island bahamas shark diving

A week diving with Oceanics: Photo Slideshow

We’ve just wrapped up another incredible week of diving with the Oceanic Whitetip Sharks of Cat Island.  Although we had one weather day, the week was filled with nonstop shark action, and a few surprises as well.  On the very last day, we even had a fly-by from a huge Blue Marlin!

 

thresher tiger beach

M/V Thresher going for upgrades!

MV Thresher has been busy traveling through the Bahamas to some of the best shark diving hotspots on the planet.  From Tiger Beach off Grand Bahama to the Great Hammerheads off Bimini, to the Oceanic Whitetips off the more remote Cat Island, she put on a lot of miles!

This June, Thresher is coming out of the water for some more upgrades.  In our commitment to provide the best, most comfortable day boat in the industry, we continue to make improvements wherever and whenever possible.

scuba diving cascasde tanksThis year, we’ll be installing a set of bank bottles to make tank filling faster and quieter.  Our compressor is getting a complete overhaul in addition to it’s annual service.

We’ll be doing the usual bottom work of cleaning and painting.  We’re sending the props in for cleaning, antifouling, and calibration, and this year, we’ll be pulling the rest of the running gear off for service and inspection.

Lastly, we plan to install mufflers in our exhaust system so that we ride more quietly.  

If you have any thoughts or suggestions, feel free to leave us a comment or send over an email.  We love feedback from divers and are willing to act on it!

Happy Diving!

oceanic whitetip shark pilot fish cat island bahamas

Incredible start to the 2015 Oceanic Whitetip Season

The 2015 Oceanic season has started with an amazing bang!  We’ve had really incredible shark action right from the start, with an average chum time of only 20 minutes so far.  The oceanics have all been well behaved and we’re excited to already be seeing some of our favorites from past seasons.

oceanic whitetip sharks cat island bahamas shark diving

A perfect pair!

 The water conditions have been amazing so far with seemingly limitless visibility, mostly flat seas, an average water temp of 78 ˚F.  Perfect conditions for snorkeling with the Oceanics.  On snorkel, the sharks get very close and love to check out all the divers.  They’re bold enough to investigate, but not pushy or threatening in their approach.  We’ve gotten some incredible images already in just the first week of encounters.

Yesterday, we did our first drift dive with the new group of guests.  It was absolutely incredible.  The oceanics stuck around for the entire dive and were joined by reef and blacktip sharks.  We had one pass by an enormous tiger sharks followed by a very inquisitive hammerhead coming to check out the group.  He was shy at first….passing through everyone and continuing on his way.  Only minutes later, he returned and came right into our bait crate.  The hammerhead buzzed by everyone in the group and we all were able to get some really nice photos.  It is the first time we’ve photographed Oceanics and Hammerheads in the same frame. 

oceanic whitetip and great hammerhead shark diving bahamas

Wow!

Needless to say, we’re so excited to be back at Cat Island diving in the blue with the oceanics.  You just never know what’s going to turn up.  Stay tuned for more trip reports and exciting photos!

Interested in diving with this rare shark species? Click here to learn more about our oceanic whitetip shark diving expeditions.

oceanic whitetip shark cat island bahamas shark diving

Oceanic Whitetip Season has begun!

We have just made it back to Cat Island, one of the out islands of the Bahamas for the start of our 2015 Oceanic Whitetip Shark diving season.  The over 300 mile journey here was nice and smooth, with great weather on the water and some incredible sunrises and sunsets!

cat island sunrise

Just after arriving back on the island, the whole crew was greeted by all our friends from years past.  It was great to see everyone’s excitement that the “shark people” are back!  A few of the folks even asked why we have to leave every year.whitetip shark diving on cat island in the bahamas

Although we wanted to rest after a few really busy months at Tiger Beach and in Bimini, it was hard to contain the excitement for seeing the oceanics again.  Just staring out from the beach at that incredible blue water that surrounds Cat Island and knowing the Oceanics were out there swimming around, we just couldn’t wait.

We spent only a few minutes deciding which location to go check out first.  We returned to one of our favorite areas from seasons past and started to setup the chum.  Within just a few minutes of getting the bait in the water, we spotted to first shadow making it’s way to the bow of the boat.  Only seconds later, a second shadow and this time the dorsal fin broke the surface, leaving no doubt that we had oceanic whitetips with us!  It was such an incredible feeling.

By the time we got suited up to enter the water, we had 5 different Oceanics swimming around.  Getting back in the water felt like coming home.  We’ve been so used to nice shallow SCUBA dives with sharks at Tiger Beach and Bimini that this seems so different.  The water is deep and the color and visibility are like no where else.   Before leaving the water, we had 7 different Oceanics (6 female and one small male), and a few of them had been with us last season.  Can’t wait to go through the rest of the photos and add the other sharks to our ID Book.

Needless to say, we’re so excited to be back on Cat Island with the Oceanics and looking forward to the start of another incredible season here.  This marks our fifth year out here and we’re excited to share it with some great friends that are headed this way in 2015!!

oceanic whitetip shark cat island bahamas shark diving

We’re sad to leave Bimini but super excited to return home to Cat Island for the beginning of our Oceanic Whitetip Shark diving season. We’ll be returning to Bimini in January of 2016 for the hammerheads once again. Click here to learn more about our oceanic whitetip shark diving.