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A very large hammerhead, unlike the smaller bonnet head and scalloped hammerhead, this magnificent and powerful predator can reach lengths of up to 18 feet. They can be found from shallow waters to the open ocean. They feed on a variety of bony fish, small sharks but have a distinct liking for stingrays. Some sharks have been found with several stingray barbs in their mouth. This species seems to be a solitary animal, rarely seen with another, although we are fortunate to have seen as many as five at one time. Besides their size, the way to tell a great hammerhead from any other hammerhead is it’s extremely large sickle-shaped dorsal fin. There is no mistaking it. We have seen dorsal fins in excess of three feet in height. These are some of the most beautiful, prehistoric sharks in the ocean and one is privileged to see them.It is not uncommon to see great hammerheads swimming across the sand or reef. We have even seen them from the boat, skimming the surface. To swim with a great hammerhead for an up close and personal encounter, and really get the opportunity to get photographs or video of this elusive shark, you will want to book a spot on one of our Bahama Shark Expedition trips. These trips run between December and April each year.
This shark obviously gets its common name from the stripes on its side. The spots and lines they have when they are young, turn into stripes when they get older. When they get over 12 feet however, the stripes tend to fade on some animals, but there is still no mistaking this large, bulky predator. It has a massive head, blunt snout and large dark eyes. It also has a very large mouth and in females, their entire body can be so large and bulky they almost always look pregnant. These sharks are global, found almost everywhere. We have seen these sharks in deep and very shallow water during all hours of the day. Its diet is probably the most varied of all sharks, eating anything from bony fishes, turtles, birds, and crustaceans to garbage. Generally they are quite timid around divers, staying off in the distance only coming in when he or she has had time to get comfortable with a situation. They tend to always be very cautious. We find them mostly during our Bahamas Shark Expedition trips where our focus in on the tiger and great hammerhead shark. During our 2003/2004 season, we counted up to 20 different sharks between 8 and 16 feet in one day. We see some of the same sharks week after week, month after month. These sharks are not uncommon to be seen on some of the reefs in the Bahamas just swimming by and can be seen cruising the shallow waters of the Little Bahama Bank.
The Caribbean reef shark is the shark most people envision when you say the word shark. In the Bahamas there are several areas where you can see these sharks. Our West End/Little Bahama Bank trips have several sites where you can swim with these sharks, but almost any area of the Bahamas will be home to the Caribbean Reef Shark.
A common shark found in healthy reef environments that can sometimes be found offshore. It can grow to about 9 feet but usually averages in lengths of 4-6 feet. It is found throughout the Caribbean including Florida and the Gulf of Mexico . These sharks eat a variety of bony fishes. They are powerful and impressive predators that make up the majority of most organized shark dives.
They are easy to identify, with their round, blunt snout. Their bodies can vary from slender to heavy set depending on size and body color ranges from pale to middle gray with white underbellies. They are smooth, sleek sharks that are amazingly agile and beautiful to watch. You can see this shark year round.
Thought to be extremely aggressive, you will find as a scuba diver, that they tend to stay pretty far away from you at most times. On occasion, one may get curious and come in for a closer look, but rarely. In the Bahamas, we find them on deeper dive sites that we visit on our Bahama Shark Expeditions. The bull shark is a very bulky, massively built shark with a blunt round snout, small eyes and no real conspicuous fin or body markings. Think of a wrestler or body builder, they look like they have no neck and the same goes for a bull shark. They have an extremely large girth, not at all sleek looking like a Caribbean reef shark.
Very common in the Bahamas and throughout the Caribbean, these sharks have a very large second dorsal fin, long paddle shaped caudle fin and very small dotty eyes. It’s pectoral fins look almost “angel like” if viewed from above. They are tan in color as opposed to the black tip or Caribbean reef shark, which are gray in color. They grow to lengths of 9-10 feet and can be found in shallow waters, reefs, rubble bottoms, and are mostly seen lying on the bottom during the day as they are nocturnal by nature.They feed on crabs, shrimps, lobsters, and octopuses along with fish. You can find these sharks on just about any reef. They are very docile when left alone.
Lemon sharks get their name from their light coloration. Males seem to be thinner than the females who can reach over 10 feet in length and be very bulky. They have a pointy snout and small eyes as well as two dorsal fins, like a nurse or sand tiger shark. In the Bahamas you can see these sharks in on our Shark Expeditions. It is common for us to see fifteen or more different lemon sharks on one day in one location averaging 8 feet in length.
These sharks are found almost worldwide. Most people confuse the Caribbean Reef shark for a Blacktip. These sharks have small amounts of black on the extremities of various fins; they look like they’ve been dipped in paint. The snout, when viewed from the side, is longer and pointier than the rounded snout of the Caribbean Reef. In the Bahamas blacktip reef sharks are commonly seen.
There is no mistaking this impressive shark for their commandeering presence is one of a kind. This pelagic explorers appear to spend most of their life cruising the surface area of abysal waters. From early times these sharks have been given a bad reputation, but we are hopeful to change the way humans perceive them with our amazing Oceanic Whitetip shark excounters. During the summer months we travel to areas in the Bahamas where we have been fortunate enough to encounter the endangered Oceanic Whitetip shark. They are named because of the whitetip on their dorsal fin. Elegant pilot fish are usually found accompanying this majestic sharks. On occasion we have even encounter juveniles no larger than 3 feet in length. With their oversized paddle-like pectoral fins you will not find a more endearing shark photograph.
These are open ocean sharks that normally stay fairly close to land, but in deep water offshore. They have been seen off of deep water reefs and accompanying other marine animals. They are a sleek, shiny gray to bronze color. These guys are fast, and very agile. They feed mostly on bony fishes.
In the Bahamas, we find them hanging around deep buoys in the Tongue of the Ocean off Andros Island and sometimes in large numbers around a blue hole in Nassau .
Jim Abernethy’s Scuba Adventures also runs trips to other destinations worldwide, to interact with and photograph sharks. Call or email for more information.
For more shark information, stories, research, and what you can do to help sharks around the world, please visit the following links:
- Sea Shepherd
- Save Our Seas
- Shark Trust
- Shark Research Institute
- ReefQuest Center for Shark Research