The Bahamas is known for its sharks. Many divers visit these islands every year just to get an up close and personal experience with these impressive creatures. Last week Diane and I went to the Bahamas and spent the week aboard the Morning Star, one of the Blackbeards Cruises boats, and we were looking forward to some face time with the sharks.
Normally the Bahamas can be quite cool in the winter with air and water temperatures in the high teens or low twenties. The winds can also be fairly strong in the winter leading to rougher waters. Last week though was a completely different story for us. The water was 23 degrees or higher and top side we enjoyed sun and 28 degrees and up. Our crossing back from the Exumas to New Providence was so flat, calm and clear that we were spotting rays and sharks 12m down.
The boat was full to the brim with 18 passengers and 7 crew. It was a great mixture of people from Canada, Scotland, South Africa, USA and Argentina. Most were very experienced divers with just a few people with under 100 dives. The diving in the Bahamas is not very challenging though and is a great spot for newer divers.
Blackbeards normally does a shark feed each week at a site called amberjack reef but were recently told by the park to do it elsewhere. So they've been prepping a new site outside of the marine park for their shark feeds. Through the beginning of the week we did several dives at and near the old feed site and we were accompanied by the usual dinner guests of Caribbean reef sharks. We were seeing 1-8 good sized reef sharks on practically every dive. All week the crew had been getting us pumped up for the new shark feed site. Recanting stories of the previous weeks feed where there were 10+ reef sharks and even a hammerhead.
On the second last day of our trip it was time for the shark dive! First the divemaster, Tavia, went down to secure the chum then we all followed. As soon as we began decending I knew that we were not going to get the show everyone was expecting. Having done many dives with sharks in the Bahamas, Cuba and Honduras I knew that we should already be seeing some action. Normally these sharks are like trained dogs and show up as soon as the boat hooks the mooring. There wasn't a single shark in sight. Everyone from our boat took their spot in the sand around the chum as they had been instructed. Diane and I instead went for a little tour around figuring perhaps when we return some of our finned friends would show up.
Upon our return everyone was still in their places awaiting the show. We were making our way towards the group when out of the corner of my eye I saw him! A slow moving, stealth like reef shark making his way in to devour the chum. I couldn't help but laugh through my regulator since he was less than 2 feet long and not the big monster everyone was anticipating. The barracuda on the chum was bigger than him. Although that didn't stop him, he consumed it all by himself.
As we made our slow ascent to the surface one other shark did make an appearance in the shadows. This one was larger (4-6ft) and sadly missing it's dorsal fin. Whether the fin is a birth defect or if the shark is a victim of shark finning I don't know, but the crew were familiar with this shark. They've affectionately named him Finnegan.
I wasn't at all disappointed by the lack of turn out for the feed. I actually found it quite amusing. We had seen plenty of sharks all week and besides, these are wild animals so you can't predict what they will do. The diving overall was great with a mixture of wrecks, reefs, walls and a blue hole. I will definitely be heading back to do another Blackbeards trip soon. Any dive boat that has a disco ball on board gets an A+ from me. (I'll post a video of that soon)