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Bahamas Trip Report, Jan/Feb 2019

Bahamas Trip Report, Jan/Feb 2019
The Bahamas is a place famous for its close up shark encounters and nowhere are these encounters more awe inspiring than at Tiger Beach and the Bimini Islands. Our trip on Bahamas Master Liveaboard would take us to both of these destinations. Tiger Sharks can be found at Tiger Beach for most of the year but Great Hammerheads only appear in the Bahamas during the winter months with the most reliable encounters taking place January through March. During our trip we encountered a total of 6 shark species, Tiger Sharks, Great Hammerheads, Bull Sharks, Lemon Sharks, Nurse Sharks and Caribbean Reef Sharks.

At Tiger Beach the Lemon Sharks and Caribbean Reef Sharks gather around the dive platform and remain there the whole time allowing for some great surface photos. At Bimini the Lemon Sharks are replaced by Nurse Sharks that also gather in large numbers on the sea floor often heaped on top of one another. Beneath the liveaboard and around the descent line the Bull Sharks patrol keeping you on your toes as you go up and down the line between dives. At any other dive destination in the world any one of these shark species would be the stars of the show but not at Tiger Beach and the Bimini Islands.

At Tiger Beach large female Tiger Sharks gather whilst they are pregnant before disappearing briefly to give birth. They are seriously big Tiger Sharks both in length and girth! Most of the Tiger Sharks are well known here and as such have cute names such as Princess, Puzzle and Tequila that whilst fitting with their gentle nature as they swim around us, belie their clearly awesome power. We have to be on guard at all times and remain alert as we try to keep track of where each Tiger and Bull Shark is at all times. Tiger Beach also has another special visitor you have to watch out for – Patches the Great Hammerhead Shark! This Great Hammerhead only appears during the winter months just like her cousins down in Bimini and watching the interactions between the Tigers and Patches is a really unique experience!

Tiger Beach is an exciting and intense experience and probably the most exhilarating shark diving you’ll ever do. Bimini on the other hand has a much more relaxed feel. The Tigers rarely come here and whilst still a formidable shark, the Great Hammerheads that congregate in Bimini, do not require quite as much head swivelling to keep track of them. They are though truly graceful to watch with their amazing agility and huge size. Their dorsal fin in particular is gigantic and they will come right up to your camera with a big toothy smile! A common debate on the boat is do you prefer the Tigers or the Hammerheads – the split seems pretty even! The bottom line is if you love sharks you will really love the Bahamas because nowhere else on the planet allows you to get this close to so many big shark species!