Bahamas tiger shark diving liveaboard trips to Tiger Beach – diving with tiger sharks safely
Diving with sharks, especially big sharks like tiger sharks, can be done safely as long as you follow the rules. See below about diving with tiger sharks safety.
If you're looking to dive with tigers sharks and your looking to dive in the Bahamas, plus, if you're looking to scuba dive from a liveaboard boat, then a Bahamas tiger shark diving liveaboard is the perfect solution for you. Choosing the best liveaboard is important and the Bahamas Aggressor is certainly one of the best liveaboard scuba diving boats in the Bahamas.
Bahamas tiger shark diving liveaboard
If you're looking to dive with tigers sharks. If your looking to dive in the Bahamas. Plus, if you're looking to also dive from a liveaboard boat:' Then a Bahamas tiger shark diving liveaboard is the perfect solution.
Probably one of the best liveaboard boats in the Bahamas is The Bahamas Aggressor. This is a 30 metre (100 feet) mono-hulled boat. The maximum number of guests is 14. So you'll not be over crowded. Plus more importantly, it includes the infamous Bahamas Tiger Beach dive in its itinerary.
If you're a scuba diver and if you're like me and love scuba diving with sharks, this is a must-do trip. Unless you're against shark feeding.
The tiger shark is one of the biggest sharks, growing up to 5.5 metres (18 feet). Its unmistakable tiger-like markings along is flanks make it stand out from all the other sharks.
Tiger shark diving Bahamas
Shark dive tourism in the Bahamas is a multi-million-dollar industry. The Bahamas is probably considered the 'shark dive capital of the world,' as there's always plenty of sharks to be seen in the waters off its coasts in the Caribbean seas.
As shark diving tourism is so important to the Bahamas and earns around $80 million a year, they have banned shark fishing in the country. But the shark feeding aspect of diving with sharks in the Bahamas remains one of controversy.
Tiger Beach is the best place to see tiger sharks in the Bahamas (and possibly the world)
Probably one of the best places in the Bahamas (and possibly the world) for spotting tiger sharks is Tiger Beach. Arguably one of the most reliable and consistent spots to see tiger sharks. And if you're looking to take photographs of tiger sharks, this is the perfect spot, if not the best place in the world to photograph and film these beautiful creatures.
Also, if you're not just looking for those still shots of tiger sharks and want to get some great videos of these stripped creatures, take your Gopro's and film them to your hearts content.
You'll probably average between two and seven tiger sharks at any time. But there have been known to be up to 17 tiger sharks there. There are less tiger sharks in the summer months of July and August. Which is not a bad thing, as when there are too many sharks around, you'll be constantly watching your back.
Take a look at the video below if you want confirmation of this.
Tiger Beach shark feeding
Whether you agree with shark feeding or not, this is how tiger sharks and their cousins are drawn in to Tiger Beach.
You'll accompany a shark-feeder on the dive. They will take the crate down containing fish chunks, which is the food that brings the sharks in, along with the chum slick.
Only the feeder will feed the sharks. Whilst you watch, photograph, video and enjoy.
Tiger sharks are not the only sharks at Tiger Beach
When you visit Tiger Beach on a liveaboard, tiger sharks are not the only sharks you'll see. Lemon sharks for example are a regular visitor to this area of the Bahamas too. As are Caribbean reef sharks and nurse sharks. You'll also see the occasional great hammerhead shark (which in this case has been named Scylla) and bull sharks too.
Two of the tiger sharks have been named Hook and Emma, due to their regular visits and familiarity. Hook is a female shark and it appears from a hole in her head and just above her gill slits, that she was shot. But Hook got her name because she was caught by fishermen and as a result suffered a broken jaw. Hook's jaw still slightly hangs down on one side of her mouth as a result of the injury caused.
Emma is another of the regular tiger shark visitors to Tiger Beach. Emma is a very large tiger shark of over 5 metres (16 feet) in length. She probably weighs over a tonne and she's been known to the area and the shark feeders for well over 10 years now. A distinctive marking is that she has a pigment-free white spot near her caudal fin.
Emma is also quite a demanding shark of all the tiger sharks that appear there to be fed too.
Tiger Beach Bahamas location - 'Where is Tiger Beach at?'
If you want to photograph or to film tiger sharks, Tiger Beach is the place to go. But Tiger Beach is not actually a beach at all, so the name is a bit misleading. The waters are crystal clear with great visibility. So you'll see the sharks arriving from quite far into the distance. But there's not a beach in sight.
The location of Tiger Beach is off the north west end of Grand Bahama Island. Grand Bahama is one of 700 of the Bahamas Islands. The Bahamas is located at its nearest point 56 miles (90 km) off the coast of Florida in the United States.
The Tiger Beach diving spot is about 20 miles (32 km) off the north west coast of Grand Bahama. But its location wasn't actually discovered until the 1980's.
The area is very exposed and can be subjected to rough seas at certain times of the year. When the seas are rough, and as there's no nearby shelter, it's not possible to dive this site at this time.
How deep is Tiger Beach
One of the great aspects of the dive at Tiger Beach is that it's shallow. This opens it up for most skill levels of scuba diver. So even if you're a beginner scuba diver, you may still be able to dive at Tiger Beach (but see below on recommendations). The shallow depths are created by the various sand bars in the area, which have been created by currents.
There are known to be surges and currents in the water in the shallow depths. So usually scuba divers are heavily weighted to make it easier to remain stationary on the bottom. This way once you arrive at the bottom, you join the line of other scuba divers, and stay in one position.
Tiger Beach has a maximum depth of around 6-10 metres (20-30 feet). This is beneficial for two reasons. The first of which is that the shallow depth opens this great dive up to most scuba diver certifications. Plus the shallowness of the dive means that your air consumption will be lower and increase your dive time.
Also, throughout most of the dive you'll be kneeling on the bottom stationary. This means you'll not be exerting very much energy (other than nervous energy as your heart races), so will also be conserving your air. So typically the dive time for Tiger Beach scuba dives is around 60 minutes.
I guarantee your heart rate will increase when you're surrounded by sharks. Adrenaline will be flowing through your veins for sure. This will mean that your air consumption will automatically increase. The shallow dive profile compensates for this increase in air consumption, which will come from your natural nervousness and fight or flight instinct kicking in.
Recommended certification for scuba divers to dive Tiger Beach
Scuba diving is not only about depth. There are other factors to consider when diving at Tiger Beach. This includes diving at various depths, understanding currents plus being calm and comfortable when diving around sharks.
I would recommend your having a reasonable number of scuba dives under your belt before you attempt the dive at Tiger Beach. With experience you gain confidence. You want to be able to relax and feel comfortable with your scuba diving equipment, before you attempt this type of dive. You don't want to be faffing with your buoyancy control and fiddling with your equipment when there are sharks around.
So the recommendation from me would be to have dived at least 20 dives before you dive at Tiger Beach. Get well acquainted with your scuba equipment. Learn to be relaxed and comfortable in the water. Master your buoyancy and take note of the safety brief before you enter the water. Don't get too close to the chum box, or you may end up being bitten.
Many of the diving operators will anchor at depths between 3 and 30 metres (10-100 feet). This means that you will need to be comfortable to swim to the dive site over deeper water.
Some of the diving operators require an Advanced Open Water Diver Certification before they will allow you to dive on Tiger Beach. The dive company or liveaboard boat operator will be able to tell you what they require as a minimum diver certification and experience.
How to get to Tiger Beach
The best way to visit Tiger Beach dive site is on a liveaboard dive boat. Most liveaboard dive boats include this wonderful dive site on their itinerary. This includes the Bahamas Aggressor.
For those that have already dived from a liveaboard, this is probably the best and most relaxed way to scuba dive. The boat will arrive at a dive site, which in this case is Tiger Beach. The dive will proceed as per any dive from a dive boat. But after the dive there's no thoughts of having to rush back to land.
There's then a chance to enjoy relaxing on the liveaboard boat. Have something to eat and drink, chat about your diving experience, read a book, sun bathe or whatever you like. It's more likely you'll do a second dive at the Tiger Beach dive site. But without the worry of having to rush back to the Island.
When dive boats arrive, it's not the tiger sharks that arrive first. It's usually the lemon sharks that circle the boat on arrival. They know they are about to be fed. When the water begins to be chummed, the Caribbean reef sharks tend to arrive next and then the tiger sharks last.
Tiger Beach Bahamas day trip
There are also Tiger Beach Bahamas day trips, where it's possible to scuba dive Tiger Beach from a land-based diving operator. The trip includes roughly an hours boat ride to the site from mainland Grand Bahama. You will usually leave early in the morning, have two dives at the site and return late afternoon to arrive back to port on the evening of the same day.
Tiger Beach video footage
If you want to get a flavour for what it's like to scuba dive at Tiger Beach, here's a short video clip. You'll see just how many sharks appear and how close they get to the camera's and scuba divers. Sometimes very close for comfort too!
Notice how many sharks are circling the boat, but before the scuba divers get into the water.
Tiger Beach Bahamas shark attack
There have been a few shark incidents at Tiger Beach. But considering the number of dives there each year, these are very low. I thought it necessary to include this in my article.
There are calls for the feeding of sharks to be stopped. Many argue that the practice of shark feeding is wrong and is dangerous to all water-users, not just to scuba divers.
The Tribune242 reported a call for a shark dive ban after a fatality. But it turns out that the death of the diver concerned was more likely from drowning and not from a shark attack. Although there are conflicting reports, as the Bahamian government determined it to be a shark attack as the cause of death.
The reason the local diver operator considered it a drowning, and not a shark attack, was due to the fact that the buckles on the victims gear were undone. His argument was that a shark couldn't do that. He suspects that the diver, which in this case was a Dr Petty from Longview Texas, got separated in a current and ran out of air.
In the same article, there have been two other incidents, one of which resulted in a fatal shark attack on an Austrian lawyer in 2008. Although from the article it's not clear whether this shark fatality was at Tiger Beach or not, but it is clear that it was in the Bahamas.
Balanced view of shark feeding and shark diving
I wanted to provide a complete review of the shark diving at Tiger Beach. Most of the time it's safe to dive where sharks are being fed underwater. But feeding sharks is controversial.
I wanted you to know the full story before you went ahead and booked your Bahamas tiger shark diving liveaboard trip. So long as the above report on shark attacks has not put you off from scuba diving in the Bahamas, but in particular at Tiger Beach, I suggest you read the diving with tiger sharks safety tips below.
Interesting facts about the tiger shark
A few interesting facts about the tiger shark:
Members of the Requiem species of shark
Tiger sharks are a requiem shark species.
One characteristic is this requiem sharks is they give birth to fully developed young. They also have the reputation of having a higher proportion of reported attacks on humans (but that's not necessarily scuba divers).
Tiger sharks are known for migrating. They following the warmer waters of the summer and winter months. A tiger shark that was tagged in the Caribbean was tracked migrating to Cape Cod.
Attacks on humans
Tiger sharks are second to great white sharks in numbers of human attacks - these attacks are linked to their indiscriminate feeding habits and occurrence in shallow waters. The tiger shark is colloquially called the man-eater shark.
Nicked named 'dustbins of the sea'
They are called the dustbins of the seas or 'garbage eaters' due to their voracious appetite. They also have a reputation for eating almost anything in their pathway and eat the widest variety of food of all sharks.
Tiger sharks are a solitary shark and mostly hunt at night.
Near threatened species
The tiger shark is a near threatened species due to finning and fishing.
Females are larger than the males
The female tiger sharks tend to grow larger than the males. Male tiger sharks tend to grow to around 4 metres (13 feet 1 inch), whereas the females can grow to over 5 metres (16 feet 5 inches).
Fourth largest shark
The tiger shark is ranked in average size smaller than three other sharks. These are the whale shark, the basking shark and the great white shark.
Special teeth designed to cut through bone and tougher substances
The teeth on a tiger shark are unique. They have pronounced serrations which are extremely sharp and almost hacksaw like. The teeth have an almost unmistakable sideways pointing tip.
The design of their teeth make easy work of cutting through flesh and bone. But their teeth also make easy work of the tough outer shells of turtles, which is one of their favourite meals.
Diving with tiger sharks safety
Diving with tiger sharks safety is all about understanding sharks. It's also about listening to your dive master's instructions and the dive brief before the dive. Listen carefully to the dive brief and do everything they say. This way you'll be much safer in the water around all of the sharks that turn up.
But always remember, these are wild creatures, this is nature and sharks can be unpredictable.
Sharks can pose a potential threat to scubas dives, but in this article 'Is it dangerous to scuba dive with sharks,' I explain how you're more likely to die from a fireworks accident. You are also more likely to be struck and killed by lightning than you are to be killed by a shark.
There are risks associated with shark diving. This is especially true of certain shark species, like the Great White sharks. Other sharks that have a reputation for attacking humans include bull sharks, ocean white tips and tiger sharks too. But in terms of how many of these sharks attack and kill scuba divers is very small.
Unfortunately for surfers and swimmers on the surface, these groups of water-users are more likely to be mistaken for a sharks real food and to be attacked. Whereas scuba divers are less likely to be attacked.
The reason why scuba divers are rarely attacked, is because sharks are cautious. Being that most sharks are predators, they don't want to get injured. For any predator, sustaining an injury would jeopardise their ability to hunt. So for a shark, a scuba diver is a large unknown invader of their environment and one best to be avoided. But there are exceptions to every rule. There are rogue sharks and these are the rare ones to be careful of.
What's the real danger of a shark attack
The real danger for a shark attack on a scuba diver is usually from the misplaced behaviour on behalf of the scuba diver.
Other causes of shark attacks is due to a lack of understanding of the body language and behaviour of a shark. Sharks will demonstrate their aggressive behaviour by the way they swim and how they point their pectoral fins.
So here's a few tips on shark safety when scuba diving with sharks at Tiger Beach:
- Respect the sharks - A healthy respect for sharks will go a long way to being safe in the water with them. Understanding that they are large apex predators (many larger than we are), will help you to appreciate their power, but also their beauty too.
- Don't touch the sharks - A pretty obvious tip, but still worth saying. This includes not cuddling them too.
- Don't turn your back on an approaching shark - If a shark is approaching you, you are better to face it rather than to turn away.
- Don't panic - The worst thing you could do is to panic around sharks. Panicking creates energy, which in turn will excite the sharks and could create a situation.
- Let fellow divers know of sharks approaching them from behind - Always let other scuba divers around you know about sharks that are approaching them from behind. This is not only safe practice, but it also helps your fellow divers to see and appreciate the sharks.
- No sudden movements - Scuba diving is all about slow movements in any case, but keep your hands to your sides and don't wave them around.
- Don't stir-up the sandy bottom - Don't stir the sand up, as this may excite the sharks and it will reduce visibility.
- Have a solid object to hand - It's a good idea to keep a solid object. This would include a camera, as this can be used to gently redirect a shark away, if they should become extra curious.
- Wear a dark wetsuit and gloves - When diving at Tiger Beach, it's a good idea to wear something dark.
- Gain experience and be a confident scuba diver - Before you attempt to scuba dive with sharks, I recommend that you are already an experienced and confident scuba diver with at least 20 dives under your belt.
Other where tiger sharks are located around the world include Hawaii, French Polynesia and South Africa.
I hope you enjoyed this article about Bahamas tiger shark diving liveaboard
I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your adventures of diving and snorkeling, in the comments below. Please also share your photos. Either from your underwater cameras or videos from your waterproof Gopro’s!
If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about snorkeling or scuba diving (or specifically about Bahamas tiger shark diving liveaboard), please comment below with your questions.
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Have fun and be safe!