Great white sharks in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico
The Caribbean is known for having reef sharks, nurse sharks and even tiger sharks and bull sharks, but are there great white sharks in the Caribbean?
There are great white sharks in the north of the Caribbean where it’s thought they come to breed in the warm safe waters of the Gulf of Mexico. But the scientists are still researching why the largest predators of the oceans visit the Caribbean when they normally prefer cooler waters.
I’ve included a link to Ocearch great white shark tracker. With this tracker you can see great white sharks more or less in real time when they are in the Gulf of Mexico! See below.
I discovered you get great white sharks on the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. I then wrote an article about a great white shark that pinged close to the Maldives. It was after these articles I decided to investigate other spots not necessarily known for great white sharks too.
Great white sharks prefer temperate waters
Great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) generally prefer water temperatures between 12-24°C (54-75°F). This is lower than the average temperature of the southern Caribbean waters in places like Antigua (see below), Barbados, St. Lucia and Dominica. The lowest average temperature in this region is around 26°C (79.7°F), which is above that of the preferred temperate range for great whites.
Or even further south to Islands like Bonaire and Aruba where water temperatures don’t fall below 25-26°C (77-79°F).
However, the Caribbean in the northern part of the Gulf of Mexico drops into this #greatwhiteshark temperature zone.
The lowest temperature around Key West is 20.6°C (69°F), rising to 21° (70°F) in February and 24°C (75°F) in March. It’s only from April onwards where the water temperature near Key West increase above the great white shark water temperature range when it’s 26°C (78°F).
Are there great white sharks in the Bahamas?
There have been a few great white sharks located close to the Bahamas. It’s thought by scientists that great white sharks are breeding in the Gulf of Mexico. They’ve not yet found the great white shark nursery. But research continues with female great white sharks Unama’ki, Luna and Lydia.
The lowest water temperature around the Bahamas is in February and March. In February and March the waters cool to 24°C (75°F) close to the Bahamas, which means it’s possible great whites may be in this region during these months. See below for sightings of great white sharks close to the Bahamas.
The most likely islands of the Bahamas to be visited by great white sharks are the northern islands like Grand Bahama, Little and Great Abaco, Bimini islands, Nassau and Andros. But even as far down as the Turks & Caicos Islands low average water temperatures drop to 24-25°C (75-77°F) in December through March. So you never know there might just be the odd great white shark visiting this region too, but unlikely.
This is the video of Ocearch tagging white shark Lydia
Great white sharks in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico
It’s not only female great white sharks that are found in the Caribbean, as subadult 9 foot great white shark Brunswick has been tracked around Florida, past Miami and to the Gulf of Mexico.
In the above image courtesy of the Ocearch Tracker app (see below), I have highlighted two great white sharks in the vicinity of Florida
Great white shark tracker in the Gulf of Mexico
- 24 January 2020 – Straits of Florida south of Florida Keys. Water temperature 21°C (69°F).
- 23 December 2020 – North East of Little Bahama Bank. The water temperature around the Bahamas in December average is 26°C (79°F).
- 2 January 2021 – Great Bahama Bank west of the Bahamas. The water temperature around the Bahamas in January average is 25°C (77°F).
The Ocearch shark tracker can be downloaded as an app on your smartphone. Search Ocearch Shark Tracker to install.
Great white shark in Tampa Bay Florida
Boat trippers had rare encounter with a great white shark in Tampa Bay about 65 miles off shore out of Venice, Florida. This was a 14-16 foot great white shark. The shark spent two to three hours with the day-trippers who were out on a fishing trip.
This great white shark circled the boat continuously and then tried to bite the boat and outboard motor too. What is truly amazing is this great white shark turned on it’s back. She then swims on her back almost encouraging a tummy-rub!
Are there great white sharks in Antigua?
The waters close to Antigua are too warm for great white sharks, as the lowest water temperature is 26°C (79°F). Great white sharks prefer temperate waters up to a maximum of 24°C (75°). It’s therefore highly unlikely you would ever spot a great white shark off the coast of Antigua and Barbuda.
Are there great white sharks in Florida?
Yes there are great white sharks in Florida. At certain times of the year when water temperatures fall to the right range for great whites, these large fish swim down the coast of Florida.
You’ll see from the above screenshot the movements of Brunswick great white shark. Notice how he follows the coast of Florida. Track him from Daytona Beach, down past West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and along the Keys and to Key West. His last ping was on 21 March 2021 due west of Tampa, Florida in the Gulf of Mexico.
Final thoughts about great white sharks in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico
If you like the idea of finding great white sharks in the Caribbean you may be disappointed to know you are unlikely to spot one scuba diving. But if you want to dive with sharks in the Caribbean, you might want to head over to the Bahamas for the tiger shark dive at Tiger Beach.
If on the other hand you would like to scuba dive with great white sharks, you might like to read this article about shark cage diving San Diego, California.
But also, you may be interested to read these three interesting facts about great white sharks. You may be surprised at interesting fact number three. As far as I’m aware this is the only fish that has this characteristic. If you know otherwise, please comment below or on the above article.
Don’t start panicking about great white sharks in the Caribbean. Firstly, sharks rarely attack people in any case and there’s very little evidence of shark attacks in the Caribbean. Plus the southern Caribbean seas are too warm for great white sharks to venture too far south.
To finish you may like to watch this video. This video explains why Ocearch put a hose in the shark’s mouth and a towel over their eyes.
I hope you enjoyed this article about are there great white sharks in the Caribbean
I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your adventures of diving and snorkelling. Please use the comments section below. Please also share your photos. Either from your underwater cameras or videos from your waterproof go-pro’s!
If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about snorkelling or scuba diving (or specifically about are there great white sharks in the Caribbean), please comment below with your questions.