epic tiger shark diving expeditions
tiger shark and great hammerhead tiger beach bahamas

Bahamas Shark Diving Capital of the World

There are a few locations that come to mind when looking for the best shark diving hotspots on this blue planet. Cocos, Galapagos, South Africa, Fiji, Australia, and Mexico all have some amazing shark dives. But there’s no denying that the Bahamas ranks high on that list, perhaps taking the title of Shark Diving Capital of the World! We’re excited to bring you to some of the best of Bahamas shark diving. Read on for an introduction to each diving location and what species of sharks we expect to find there.

Tiger Shark Diving @ Tiger Beach

Just a small part of the Little Bahama Bank, Tiger Beach has long been a world class shark diving hotspot. Scuba divers can get uncaged and up-close encounters to this super predator! The tiger sharks that migrate through this area are very well known to the operators that work here. Some of the sharks that are still interacting with divers today have been documented at the site 15 years ago! Most of the animals you’ll see there are quite used to divers and the shark diving routine. Just stick to the rules and enjoy the show. Bahamas shark diving at it’s best!

tiger shark at tiger beach bahamas

Bahamas Shark Diving: Oceanic Whitetip

Once considered that most abundant vertebrates on earth (over 100 lbs), Oceanic Whitetip Shark populations have been decimated making them very difficult to find. The Bahamas, however, is one of the last strongholds for a healthy population of this pelagic shark. Shark divers from around the globe can expect to reliably encounter this species during their peak season of April – June. They’re bold, curious and incredibly photogenic, making the trip out here well worth it. This species makes Bahamas shark diving unique.

oceanic whitetip shark diving
One of our favorite sharks on Cat Island, Miranda has been around since 2011.

Bahamas Shark Diving: Great Hammerhead

Moving over to the Great Bahama Bank, divers can expect to see numerous Great Hammerhead Sharks. Once the elusive chance encounter, shark divers can expect to be surrounded by these large and unique animals during the winter months. Here’s another species where Bahamas shark diving reigns supreme.

great hammerhead shark diving in bimini

Bahamas Shark Diving – and then some…

Each of these locations also provide shark diving beyond the target species. For example, at Tiger Beach, you can see up to 6 species of shark on a single dive, including tiger sharks, great hammerhead sharks, bull sharks, reef sharks, lemon sharks, and nurse sharks. While diving with great hammerhead sharks, its common to see nurse and bull sharks as well. During the oceanic whitetip shark diving season, divers will also encounter reef sharks, dusky sharks, as well as chances at seeing great hammerhead sharks and blue marlin!

bull shark at Tiger Beach
A Bull Shark over the sargassum meadows at Tiger Beach
tiger beach great hammerhead shark diving

Tiger Beach Diving in the Bahamas – 2019!

To say this season has been one of the best yet is a bit of an understatement. Tiger Beach has consistently been getting better and better and we have enjoyed every minute of it! We have been averaging 5 species on most dives, including Tiger, Reef, Lemon, Great Hammerhead, and Bull sharks. The nurse sharks are around but have been least likely of the 6 species we can expect to see to show up on our dives.

Here’s a short video to give you an idea of what the dives have been like:

January – March Dive Stats

  • Water Temperature: 77 – 79 F (25 – 26 C)
  • Dive Site Depths: 20 – 35 feet (6 – 10 meters)
  • Average Visibility: 60 – 100 feet (18 – 30 meters)
  • Average Dive Time: 80 minutes
  • This time of year is definitely hot at the beach! The dives have been incredible! We have had to contend with a bit of weather, but overall the divers have had their fill of sharks! Make sure when you’re planning a trip out during this peak season that you plan for weather. We recommend reserving a minimum of three dive days as well as securing dive specific travel insurance (www.DAN.org or www.DiveAssure.com) that will cover for lost days of diving due to weather cancellations. And don’t worry, as long as we’re able to make it out to the dive site, we’ll show you the very best that Bahamas Shark Diving has to offer!

    We’re already filling in our 2020 calendar quickly, so let us know if you’re interested in getting in on the action! Check out our Tiger Beach Diving Packages here and don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.


    tiger beach great hammerhead shark diving
    Tiger Shark and Great Hammerhead duo cruise the reef
    tiger beach great hammerhead shark diving
    Crowded day at Tiger Beach!
    tiger beach great hammerhead shark
    Who’s Hungry?

    Tiger Beach, Bahamas – 2019

    great hammerhead tiger beach shark

    Great Hammerhead Sharks at Tiger Beach!

    The diving at Tiger Beach has only been getting better, season after season!  We’ve been so excited to see the changes, and this year is no different.  The shark diving at Tiger Beach has become a fan favorite.  Not only are we enjoying numerous tiger sharks with the reef sharks and lemon sharks to compliment the show, but we are now having regular dives featuring great hammerhead sharks and even bull sharks.  During the early part of the year this past season, we had several days during each of our trips that had great hammerhead sharks mixed in with the tiger sharks!  It has been incredible and the photographic opportunities are top notch.

    tiger beach great hammerhead shark

    great hammerhead tiger beach shark

    The 2018 season is already shaping up to be another record setter with loads of tiger sharks and a few great hammerheads making regular appearances.  Obviously, this time frame has become quite a popular time to visit.  We are already taking reservations for the 2019 season and the calendar is filling up fast.  If you’ve been thinking of making a visit, there’s no better time.  Tiger Beach off Grand Bahama Island is hotter than ever!  Be sure to check out our Tiger Beach packages and contact us early to reserve your spot for these unforgettable adventures.  It was recently named the Reader’s Choice #1 Big Animal dive destination in SCUBA Diving Magazine.

    scuba diving magazine cover

    Bahamas – 1st Place Pick for Big Animals 2018

    The January/February issue of SCUBA Diving Magazine was just released and covers the 2018 Readers Choice Awards. Not surprisingly, the Bahamas ranked on top for the reader’s pick, best big animals destination! The 2-page photos used for the article was taken during one of our Tiger Beach expeditions this past February by Jennifer Penner of NewMediaSoup.

    great hammerhead at tiger beach

    Grand Bahama is underrated in the diving community. Great reefs and, of course, the abundance of sharks make it amazing!”

    The article features all three of our favorite shark diving hotspots: Great Hammerheads off Bimini, Tiger Sharks off Grand Bahama, and Oceaincs Whitetips off Cat Island. Here are a few excepts…

    Bahamas Big Animals
    • Great Hammmerheads – Bimini plays host to endangered Sphyrna mokarran. Once the hammers show up, you’ll drop down on a shallow-water sand beach in blue water, perfect for wide-angle photography. Bull sharks often crash the party.
    • Tiger Beach Excursion – Sixteen-foot tigers are the main attraction at this shallow water site off Grand Bahama’s West End, but you’ve also got a good chance of encountering lemons and Caribbean reefs.
    • Cat Island Sharks – Open-ocean advanced diving is available in the central Bahamas with oceanic whitetips, plus dusky, lemon, tiger, and silky sharks – and possible encounters with Atlantic blue marlin, which can measure 16 feet long and weigh up to 1,800 pounds.

    Tiger Beach is undoubtedly one of the world’s best shark diving sites and each year seems to get better and better.  In the recent few seasons, we have been having reliable encounters with Great Hammerheads during the January – April timeframe.  It’s an amazing experience to have Tiger Sharks, Reef Sharks, Lemon Sharks and now Great Hammerheads and Bull Sharks all together on the same dive.  Contact us for more details and to make a reservation.

    amanda cotton great hammerhead night dive

    Sharks of the Dark – Behind the Mask

    We spent an incredible week working with the folks at Behind the Mask and A Cotton Photo during our Great Hammerhead season in Bimini. Here’s an awesome video from our night dive during the trip.  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

    amanda cotton great hammerhead night dive

    You can learn more about our dive expeditions with the great hammerhead sharks by clicking here.  See more from Behind the Mask.

    great hammerhead shark

    Hammerhead pitstop « Save Our Seas Foundation

    We recently came across this article written by Tristan Guttridge at the Bimini Biological Field Station explaining how some of the tagging takes place with the Great Hammerheads in Bimini, Bahamas. Bimini is undoubtedly the best place to encounter the Great Hammerhead Sharks and has seen a recent boom in dive related tourism. Here’s Tristan’s explanation of the tagging process:

    In short, by using a basic float-fishing technique taught to us by an ex-commercial shark fisherman in Florida. After mastering this method, with his guidance, we are now able to capture, tag and safely release a great hammerhead shark in less than 15 minutes. This is how we do it:

  • 0 minutes: Once hooked, the hammerhead typically swims away, diving into deeper water (where available) and towing our set-up of giant buoys. The shark’s powerful turns and deep dives cause the buoys to submerge under the waves.
  • 3 minutes: We intuitively ‘feel’ the shark moving through the water column and give it more line to manoeuvre and even dive if it wants to. Then we slowly and carefully haul in the line and after a few minutes the sensitive hammerhead reaches our boat, not in a state of exhaustion.
  • 6 minutes: Once it is alongside our vessel, we point the shark into the current to ensure that water is flowing through its gills and supplying maximum oxygenation. One member of the team then holds the hammerhead’s dorsal fin to provide stability while others gently secure its tail and pectoral fins with ropes.
  • 10 minutes: Another team member gently but firmly holds the shark’s head to prevent eye damage and to help turn the shark slowly over into tonic immobility so that it is calm and ready for a research ‘work-up’. Length measurements (nose to fork) are quickly taken and a 10-year acoustic tracking device is surgically implanted. Two small fin clips are then taken for DNA and stable isotope (diet) analysis.
  • 13 minutes: On completion of the work-up, the shark is turned right side up, a miniature microchip PIT tag is inserted for long-term identification and an external tag (NMFS; National Marine Fishery Service) is placed on the shark for visual observations.
  • 15 minutes: Finally, the hook is removed and the shark is released with strong push to set it on its way.
  • For example, of the great hammerheads caught in commercial, bottom-longline fisheries in the north-western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico between 1994 and 2005, 90% were dead by the time they were brought alongside the fishing vessel. This vulnerability makes hammerheads as a group very difficult to work with and they are therefore poorly studied.

    For the full article and more photos, read Hammerhead pitstop « Save Our Seas Foundation

    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.

    tiger shark cape eleuthera study

    Interesting Shark Study in the Bahamas

    The Cape Eleuthera Institute’s Shark Research and Conservation program just published an interesting article detailing a single observation made in the Bahamas during one of their studies back in 2012.

    ABSTRACT

    Few data are available on interspecific elasmobranch interactions during predation events. This report describes and discusses empirical data from a single event in which four sharks (species: Carcharhinus leucas, Galeocerdo cuvier, Sphyrna mokarran and Carcharhinus perezi) competed for foraging opportunities on a fifth shark (C. perezi) caught on an experimental longline. Analysis of video footage suggested competition was enforced without agonistic behaviour and access to the resource was not governed by size. The singularity of the data set and the artificiality of the situation limit the strength of the conclusions. The rarity of such an observation warrants, however, a published description of the event to provide an example of the behaviour of apex predator interactions in the field.

    While sampling sharks off South Eleuthera, the research team was using the gangion rig depicted here:

    cape eleuthera shark fishing rig

    In total, the study caught, sampled, and released 146 sharks, with the exception of one…the one this current publication is about. A Caribbean Reef Shark, Carcharhinus perezi, had just been hooked on the shark rig. For the next 90 minutes, a large Bull Shark, Carcharhinus leucas, circled the shark and eventually attacked and killed the shark. This predation event resulted in a Great Hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran) and Tiger Shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) coming in to investigate. The entire event was caught on film and can be seen in this video:

     

    While the great hammerhead was the largest of the three sharks, it only investigated the feeding opportunity briefly and seemed to be run off by the bull shark.  Once the tiger shark showed up, however, the bull shark – who was significantly larger – lost the opportunity to feed.  The tiger shark seemed to dominate every interaction it had with the other species, despite it’s smaller size.

    The research group admits that complete interpretation of this single event, possibly swayed by the unnatural hooked condition of the reef shark, may be difficult.  It does show, however, a very interesting interaction between species and offers a very rare insight into this behavior.  Obviously, as the CEI group admits, replicating this to help better understand the interaction between species during predation would have some ethical issues.

    To access the full text published paper, click here

    Take a look at these interesting research articles:

    Study says Marine Protected Areas can benefit large sharks

    Prelim Research: North Carolina Attacks

    Don’t bite the hand that feeds

    SeaWorld announces end to captive orca whale breeding

    NOAA 2015 Coastal Shark Survey

    great hammerhead shark

    Great Hammerhead Sharks: Killing for Sport

    A large and very pregnant, great hammerhead shark was recently killed by a group of fisherman in Destin Florida, aboard the boat Phoenix.  The catch occurred greater than 3 miles offshore so current legislation to protect against this was irrelevant.  This shows how ineffective the current protections can be.

    Here’s a video of the shark being cut open at the dock and 33 pups removed from her womb.  The sharks fins and jaw have already been removed in the video.

    Warning: Graphic Content

    Great  Hammerhead sharks are listed as endangered on the IUCN (International Union on the Conservation of Nature) and currently protected in Florida waters.

    Many in the shark community are already aware that these sharks are extremely vulnerable to stress and often die as a result of fighting on a fishing line.  This is especially true of pregnant females.  Because of this, current research on great hammerheads has changed practice and no longer relies on hook and line to study the animals.  The researchers in Bimini are swimming alongside the great hammerheads and using a pole spear in insert tracking tags.

    There has been quite a backlash against the fishing boat after they described their trophy on social media pages.  The charter boat said that they would have released the shark, but it died in the long battle.  This, to me, was an unnecessary death of 34 great hammerhead sharks, currently endangered.  If a charter boat is going to go out and fish animals for sport, they should know the impact they are having.  They should have known that this hammerhead was extremely unlikely to survive and the line should have been cut immediately.

    It’s unfortunate to see an event like this and know that this is a sport, all for a trophy or photo.  While commercial fishing efforts have the biggest impact on the current decline of shark populations worldwide, this trophy hunting behavior/sport is even more upsetting.

    killing great hammerhead sharks

    If you’d like to dive with great hammerhead sharks, sign up with a reputable operator and see the animals swimming healthy and free in the natural environment.

    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!