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Old 22-02-2019, 06:33   #1
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Shark safety snorkeling the Bahamas

My wife and I will be heading to the Bahamas this winter and are looking forward to diving/snorkeling in areas much more isolated than our past (BVI) diving. Any thoughts from those of you who dive there? How serious are shark dangers, other threats?
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Old 22-02-2019, 12:39   #2
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Re: Shark safety snorkeling the Bahamas

As far south as Georgetown, just use common sense with regard to bull sharks, i.e.: stay out of murky water, don't swim at dawn or dusk, don't swim near people cleaning fish, etc...

Further south in the Jumentos and Raggeds, be VERY aware of sharks, especially when spear fishing and especially when on the 'out side vs bank side' of an island.

While spearfishing (stupidly) alone, (stupidly) on the outside, and (stupidly) about 50' from my anchored RIB, I had a serious encounter with a five or six foot whitetip to which I'd hardly give a second thought elsewhere. Later that day I met some local commercial fishermen and asked if aggressive sharks were common. They all laughed and began showing me their scars...
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Old 22-02-2019, 14:22   #3
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Re: Shark safety snorkeling the Bahamas

I have dove near Freeport with carribean reef sharks, and nurse sharks. Once was a specific shark dive. About 25 of them circling in and around our group. The only issue was getting slapped by ones tail as it went by. They were all calm and easy going.
Saw sharks here and there on other dives and snorkeling. They didn't have any interest in me.
As grateful said, just be careful spearfishing. A dying fish is interesting to them.
If you are diving and see one and are nervous, settle on the bottom, and try to calm your self and breathe. Rushing to the surface is far more dangerous than a shark. #1 rule of diving, always breathing, always calm
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Old 22-02-2019, 15:45   #4
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Re: Shark safety snorkeling the Bahamas

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As far south as Georgetown, just use common sense with regard to bull sharks, i.e.: stay out of murky water, don't swim at dawn or dusk, don't swim near people cleaning fish, etc...

Further south in the Jumentos and Raggeds, be VERY aware of sharks, especially when spear fishing and especially when on the 'out side vs bank side' of an island.

While spearfishing (stupidly) alone, (stupidly) on the outside, and (stupidly) about 50' from my anchored RIB, I had a serious encounter with a five or six foot whitetip to which I'd hardly give a second thought elsewhere. Later that day I met some local commercial fishermen and asked if aggressive sharks were common. They all laughed and began showing me their scars...
Ok apparently my education will have to be more extensive that I previously thought......

What defines the bank side vs the outside of an island?
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Old 23-02-2019, 09:40   #5
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Re: Shark safety snorkeling the Bahamas

Just be sure that you can swim faster than your buddy.
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Old 23-02-2019, 09:45   #6
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Re: Shark safety snorkeling the Bahamas

By bank Iím sure he means Bahamaís Bank, the shallow side, outside Iím sure he means the side towards the Ocean where it often gets real deep, real fast
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Old 23-02-2019, 09:57   #7
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Re: Shark safety snorkeling the Bahamas

Tax whiz, thanks for the chuckles. I always tell my wife she is so screwed when we walk in the Forrest. She can’t run very fast. As skinny as she is she won’t make much of a meal for a bear. He he.
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Old 23-02-2019, 10:02   #8
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Re: Shark safety snorkeling the Bahamas

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Tax whiz, thanks for the chuckles. I always tell my wife she is so screwed when we walk in the Forrest. She canít run very fast. As skinny as she is she wonít make much of a meal for a bear. He he.
Have you considered that the bear may decide to go for the more corpulent hot lunch?

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Old 23-02-2019, 10:24   #9
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Re: Shark safety snorkeling the Bahamas

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My wife and I will be heading to the Bahamas this winter and are looking forward to diving/snorkeling in areas much more isolated than our past (BVI) diving. Any thoughts from those of you who dive there? How serious are shark dangers, other threats?
How serious of a danger? Very modest. And almost always non-fatal.

Reference: http://http://www.sharkattackdata.com/place/bahamas

Truthfully, I enjoy seeing sharks when snorkeling, whereas some person's I know tend to walk on water at first sight. But I admit that their presence does seem to invoke a bit of residual fear after they swim off and are no longer in your sight. I find that I am looking 360 degrees much more often anticipating their return. Kind of like having the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

I would equate the danger to less than the likelihood of being attacked by a Griz here in Montana, but then we are diligent as to being Bear Aware and take the appropriate precautions which are similar in many ways to dealing with sharks. Don't be alone, avoid being out in dark or twilight, avoid murky water [just as one avoids brushy thickets], stay away from blood / feed source, i.e., spear fishing, chumming [here that would be stumbling upon a carcass, or when hunters are gutting out their kill]. The shark deterrents all seem to be of dubious effectiveness, mostly seemingly just being aids to reassure one's mind so as to better enjoy the water which comfort is priceless if it avails you to be in pleasant waters. I would avoid watching any of the Jaws series before your trip.

From my experience there does seem to be a positive correlation between depth of water and size of shark, but not always, hence bank side versus deep side.
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Old 23-02-2019, 10:27   #10
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Re: Shark safety snorkeling the Bahamas

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Tax whiz, thanks for the chuckles. I always tell my wife she is so screwed when we walk in the Forrest. She canít run very fast. As skinny as she is she wonít make much of a meal for a bear. He he.
ďYou donít have to run faster than the bear to get away. You just have to run faster than the guy next to you.Ē

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Old 23-02-2019, 11:18   #11
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Re: Shark safety snorkeling the Bahamas

I have been visiting, fishing and diving the Bahamas (walkers Cay to Spanish Wells) since the Ď60ís and there used to be no problem with sharks. Very infrequently encountered. However with the increased shark conservation efforts it is now pretty much expected to see at least one on most dives or snorkling.
Wife has gotten a little skittish last few years. Last year I bought a couple of Shark Banz2 to see if there was anything to their claims.
First time in the water and we did encounter a shark and it quickly exited the scene instead of just slowly swimming around or moving away. Not scientific but made my wife feel more confident.
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Old 23-02-2019, 12:36   #12
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Re: Shark safety snorkeling the Bahamas

As A64 said, banks on one side, deep ocean on the other. Most of the island chains in the Bahamas line the edge of banks, large (in some cases a few thousand square miles) areas of shallow water. In the case of the Exumas, the west side of the islands faces the Great Bahama Banks, the east side, deep ocean. Abacos are laid out the same way.

99% of the time if you're just snorkeling and following the rules I wouldn't lose a minute of sleep. As noted:

- Not close to dawn or dusk
- not spear fishing
- not messing with the sharks.

Unfortunately a lot of the best diving is on the ocean side where you will see more sharks and more aggressive species. However in 40 years cruising and diving the Bahamas I've only had one negative shark encounter and that involved diving with a guy spear fishing. Just last month were in the Exumas and had a 4-5' black tip start following us after my buddy speared a grouper. We dinghied 3-400 hundred yards away, got back in the water and a few minutes later the same shark showed up. I was coming up from a dive, did a look up and a 360 before I surfaced and came face to face with the shark charging from behind me about 3 feet away. Punched at him, he ran off and I ran the other way. Next move was a mile or so.

My experience, your more likely to get struck by lightening but take normal precautions. If fishing, stay close to the dinghy and boat immediately if you get one. If a shark comes by before you can, hand it your fish.
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Old 23-02-2019, 13:51   #13
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Shark safety snorkeling the Bahamas

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If a shark comes by before you can, hand it your fish.

Iíve been a Spearo for some time now, and the General opinion is do NOT do that, the reason is that you have just taught that shark that
Scuba diver = food.
Iím not so sure they can learn anything, I tend to believe that there is little to no actual thought, they act purely on instinct, but it makes sense.
Besides we can only only use pole spears or Hawaiian slings in the Bahamas and then not on compressed gas, just free diving.
Iíll stick a bug or two, but Iím not man enough to pole spear a good grouper and with this Ciguatera thing I donít think I want fish from a reef anyway.
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Old 23-02-2019, 14:39   #14
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Re: Shark safety snorkeling the Bahamas

I have encountered sharks numerous times in Hawaii. One was doing figure 8's under a rock ledge, apparently they sleep like this needing the water moving through their gills. Another was a huge great white off the back of Molokini crater, it didn't even acknowledge we were there thankfully, but beautiful to see.

Sharks are always sniffing for blood and listening for distress type motions, so as long as you are not presenting either of those you should be fine. If you or your buddy cut themselves underwater, get out of the water asap.

Spear fishing can be a dangerous thing if in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I am curious if cleaning a boat would attract them?
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Old 23-02-2019, 14:45   #15
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Re: Shark safety snorkeling the Bahamas

The OP did not say he was spearfishing. But if you are, here are some rules to LIVE by!

1) Keep your dingy Close. If there are two of you, one persons job is to tow the dingy after you.

2) If you spear a fish, get it and yourself in the dingy ASAP.

3) Leave the area as "there be men in grey suits a coming!"

I have never seen as many sharks as are in the Bahamas, so be alert. The most common are the grey reef sharks. They can be curious sometimes, just like 'cudas, so that is not too comforting.

The bad boys are Tigers, Bulls, Ocean White tip and Blue sharks. (I have never seen a blue myself, but in accounts I have heard, they are like pit bulls, they get more aggressive when you hit them)

If you dive, one of the most beautiful dive spots in the world is at the NW corner of the lesser bahama bank, a few miles north of Memory rock. It is called Mt. Olympus.

Mt Olympus is a deep dive, so not for beginners. 90' on the inside, 110' on the outside quickly tapering down to 400' and more. You are completely out of sight of land. But you will NEVER forget it. It is set up like the aisles of say, Home Depot. Except the shelving goes up 60' on either side of you. There are roughly 6-10 of these and each one is about 100' long, Covered in corals and fish. Anchor in the sand on the inside.
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