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
Oceanic Whitetip Shark cat island

Day Trips to Dive with Oceanic Whitetip Sharks: Bahamas

The Bahamas undoubtedly offers some of the best shark diving options available in the world! Tiger Beach has been a long time favorite among shark diving enthusiasts with it’s abundance of large sharks including Tiger Sharks, Reef Sharks, and Lemon Sharks. Bimini has emerged as a hotspot for reliable encounters with the elusive Great Hammerhead Shark, as well as regularly seen Bull Sharks and Nurse Sharks. But there is another hidden gem in shark diving lying in the central Bahamas. On the eastern edge of Exuma Sound, the deep water is a favorite hang out of the endangered Oceanic Whitetip Shark, an extremely photogenic pelagic species.

When do you run Oceanic Whitetip Shark Diving day trips?
The spring season is the right time of year to seek out encounters with the oceanic whitetip sharks. They are migratory but return each year in large numbers during the spring months. Their migration is believed to be related to mating or gestation as most of the oceanic whitetip sharks we see are female, and many of them are pregnant.

What are day trips to dive with the Oceanic Whitetip Sharks like?
A typical day trip to dive with the oceanic whitetip sharks involves an early start to grab a bite to eat before boarding the boat for the ride out to the shark grounds – click here to visit Intrepid Powerboats used for the trip. MV Thresher is fully equipped for comfort and safety to enjoy the whole day out on the water. In addition to all the seating space on the dive deck and up on the flybridge, there’s also a fully enclosed cabin to get out of the elements on some of those not so inviting winter mornings. Both the flybridge and inside cabin have stereo systems with bluetooth connectivity to enjoy your favorite playlist. The oceanic whitetips stay around the boat all day long, allowing for lengthy in water encounters. We will do a combination of SCUBA diving and snorkeling/freediving to best take advantage of the opportunity and maximize our water time. The encounters are different on SCUBA vs snorkel, and each have their pros and cons. SCUBA diving with oceanic whitetips is effortless drift diving where proper buoyancy is crucial and you’ll be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. While snorkeling with oceanic whitetip sharks, you’ll be able to take advantage of the awesome surface light and close up photo ops. Read more here to make the right choice.

How many days should you swim with Oceanic Whitetip Sharks?
We recommend no less than three days planned to dive with the oceanic whitetip sharks. Even though it’s the spring season when weather is usually getting calmer, there may still be occasional squalls of heavy winds and high seas, preventing us from making it out for diving or snorkeling with the oceanic whitetip sharks. The dive area is located in deep ocean water and can seas can build quickly. We offer standard packages with either 3 or 5 days of diving planned. We know it can be really disappointing to lose a day of diving and we strongly recommend travelers secure some form of travel insurance specific to diving, such as the kind offered by DAN or DiveAssure.

What can we expect to see in a day trip to dive with Oceanic Whitetip Sharks?
We have been diving with oceanic whitetip sharks for the past 8 years and the encounters have only gotten better over time. We have had days with up to 15 of the pelagic sharks spending the whole day with the dive group! The exciting part is that aside from the oceanic whitetips, you never know what else might show up while drifting out in the crystal clear deep blue. We have had regular encounters with Silky Sharks, Dusky Sharks and Reef Sharks, as well as the occasional Blue Shark, Mako Shark and even Great hammerhead and Tiger Sharks! And sharks aren’t the only marine animals bringing in the heart pounding excitement. Huge schools of tuna, mahi mahi (aka dorado or dolphin fish), and even Blue Marlin and White Marlin! It really is a special place worth checking off your list of shark diving hotspots!

How do I arrange day trips to dive with oceanic whitetip sharks?
Having such a short season, we generally book up well in advance, so it’s best to contact us early. Our calendar is set and boat reserved throughout the season so we don’t have space for your typical open bookings. Contact us for dates and availability.

dive with oceanic whitetip sharks bahamas shark diving

Oceanic Whitetip Shark and Pilot Fish

oceanic whitetip shark diving bahamas

Proposed Threatened Listing for the Oceanic Whitetip Shark

oceanic whitetip shark #1076

Summary

NMFS has completed a comprehensive status review under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) in response to a petition from Defenders of Wildlife to list the species. Based on the best scientific and commercial information available, including the status review report (Young et al., 2016), and after taking into account efforts being made to protect the species, we have determined that the oceanic whitetip shark warrants listing as a threatened species. We conclude that the oceanic whitetip shark is likely to become endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range within the foreseeable future. Any protective regulations determined to be necessary and advisable for the conservation of the species under ESA section 4(d) would be proposed in a subsequent Federal Register announcement. Should the proposed listing be finalized, we would also designate critical habitat for the species, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable. We solicit information to assist in this listing determination, the development of proposed protective regulations, and the designation of critical habitat in the event this proposed listing determination is finalized.

Click the link for the full details on the proposed listing:  Federal Register :: Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Threatened Listing Determination for the Oceanic Whitetip Shark Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)

Oceanic Whitetip Shark and Pilot Fish cat island bahamas

Bolt: Oceanic Whitetip Shark

Oceanic Whitetip Shark: Bolt

One of our favorite oceanic whitetip sharks was captured on film back in 2006 by a team from the BBC during the filming of this doumentary.  It’s amazing to still be able to spend the day shark diving with Bolt.

oceanic whitetip sharks cat island bahamas shark diving

Follow the Oceanic Whitetips | Pew

Follow the Oceanic Whitetips

In July 2011, The Bahamas declared a shark sanctuary in its Exclusive Economic Zone. Two months earlier, scientists had tagged 12 oceanic whiteips around The Bahamas and created an animation that tracked the movement of three of those sharks. The scientists found that although they are highly migratory, oceanic whitetips spent most of their time within the sanctuary. Sanctuaries are an important refuge for sharks.

Learn more: http://www.pewenvironment.org/sharks.

Follow the Oceanic Whitetips

oceanic whitetips shark research group

oceanic whitetips shark research group

Oceanic Whitetip Shark tagging at Cat Island

The folks over at the Cape Eleuthera Institute have just wrapped up their 2016 Oceanic Whitetip Shark tagging program. This concludes their sixth year of the program which has now caught and tagged nearly 60 individual whitetips in the waters surrounding Cat Island.

The goals of the study are to:

  • Determine generalized movements and determine high-use areas of sharks in relation to the Bahamas shark sanctuary.
  • Examine diving behavior through high resolution temperature and depth data.
  • Investigate potential hormone markers to identify reproductive cycles.
  • Examine prey-preference potential seasonal diet switches through tracing relative concentrations of Carbon and Nitrogen isotopes.
  • Gather baseline genetics data which will be incorporated into fin-trade management, and will detect fins from Oceanic whitetips found in the Western Atlantic.

Investigating these large knowledge gaps are intrinsic to the contemporary management of oceanic whitetip shark populations, and will provide novel insights into the biology and ecology of a severely threatened apex predator.

Read more about there work here: Shark Research and Conservation Program facilitates another successful year of Oceanic Whitetip (Carcharhinus longimanus) tagging at Cat Island | CEI Blog

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!

oceanic whitetip shark diving

Global Protection for the Oceanic Whitetip

Landmark conservation efforts went into effect for three species of sharks and all species of manta rays that start a long road to recovery for these decimated animal populations.

In March 2013, Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) added porbeagle and oceanic whitetip sharks, three species of hammerhead sharks (scalloped, great, and smooth), as well as all species of manta ray to CITES Appendix II. Appendix II-listed species can be traded, but only if the trade is legal and does not cause detriment to the species in the wild.

Under these new rules, international trade in sharks that are commercially exploited in large numbers, like the oceanic whitetip, will be regulated for the first time.

Implementing the regulations, of course, will be the major obstacle to truly protecting sharks, like the oceanic whitetip. However, this does reflect the crucial shift in thinking that is the first step towards true protection.

oceanic whitetip shark

Oceanic Whitetip Shark

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

protect oceanic whitetip sharks

Protect Oceanic Whitetip Sharks

oceanic whitetip sharks at CITES

Proposed Threatened Listing for the Oceanic Whitetip SharkOceanic Whitetip Sharks proposed for CITES protection

This information was sent out by PEW to help get people involved in this part of shark legislation. You can find the info on PEW’s site here.

On the site, you can enter your information and send the email out to your Senators, Representative, and Secretary Kenneth ‘Ken’ Lee Salazar. The whole process takes less than a minute, and could help raise awareness among the decision makers about the depth of the problem.

Here’s the email that will be forwarded on your behalf:

Dear [Decision Maker],
The global demand for shark fins, meat, liver oil, and other products has driven numerous shark populations to the brink of extinction. Their life history characteristics, such as slow growth, late maturation, and production of few offspring, make sharks particularly vulnerable to overfishing and slow to recover from decline.

In particular, global populations of oceanic whitetip sharks have fallen significantly. They are listed as Critically Endangered in the Northwest and Central Atlantic Ocean, and Vulnerable globally, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. In the Gulf of Mexico, scientists estimate that oceanic whitetip populations have dropped by 99 percent in just over four decades.

Although a few countries and regional fisheries management organizations have started to take steps to address the worldwide decline of oceanic whitetip sharks, these measures do not have the global reach that a listing under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) would have in helping this vulnerable species. The next opportunity to protect additional species under CITES will be in March 2013 in Bangkok.

The United States proposed listin oceanic whitetip sharks at the last CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP), but it narrowly missed being adopted. A U.S. proposal for oceanic whitetip sharks for the March 2013 CoP could help protect an extremely vulnerable shark species and would be noncontroversial in the United States, considering that only $1,057 worth of oceanic whitetip sharks landings have been reported to the National Marine Fisheries Service in the past decade. Although the clock is ticking, the U.S. government has not formally announced its intentions for the upcoming CITES CoP.
I am writing to urge you to ensure that the United States submits a proposal to list oceanic whitetip sharks on Appendix II of CITES and to do so far enough in advance of the Oct. 4 deadline to allow other governments to co-sponsor it.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]

It really only takes under one minute to get it done, and you’ll receive a confirmation from each of the officials letting you know your voice was heard.

Oceanic Whitetip Sharks

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

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