Sharkfest! Dive Ninjas at Tiger Beach – Trip Report July 2019
Dive Ninjas heads to shark diving hotspot Tiger Beach, looking for big encounters! Want to know what we saw ? Here’s Sze Wei’s trip report!
It’s Tiger Time!
On July 6th, Dive Ninjas headed to one of the shark diving capitals of the world – Tiger Beach in the Bahamas! Famed for its amazingly clear blue waters, and healthy shark population (the entire country is a shark sanctuary), we were looking forward to close face to face encounters with sharks – and top of the list was the Tiger! So did Tiger Beach deliver? Read on and I will tell all!
Our group of ninjas made our way to Freeport in Grand Bahamas, and boarded our floating home for the week – the Bahamas Aggressor. We got acquainted with the amazing crew, and at dinner we got our first introduction to the culinary wizardry of chef Caleb! The peanut butter pie for dessert alone was worth trekking halfway round the world for! After being briefed on the dos and don’ts of the boat, we settled into our cabins dreaming of sharkie encounters – or I did at any rate!
In the morning, we all woke up bright and early, eager to get in the water! After a yummy breakfast we finally got to splash in with our check out dive at Sherwood Forest. Exploring the reef, we saw shrimps, cabbage nudis and a little turtle swimming off in a distance. There were also a few free swimming remoras who were a little bit too friendly – as Val will attest to!
On surfacing however, Captain Christy had some bad news waiting for us – compressor issues meant that we had to head back to the dock for repairs. So, no full day of diving for us. But being true ninjas, we took full advantage of the unexpected lull – Ninja Leader Jay, and Katy Ayres, PhD candidate at Pelagios Kankuja, gave a talk introducing us to shark biology, and the different types of sharks we can expect to see during the week, as well as conservation issues faced by the species. This generated a lot of questions and discussions, and we all felt a lot more well informed after this!
The amazing crew soon got the compressor working again, and we were soon heading back out to Tiger Beach. We got there in time to fit in two dives at Sugar Wreck, an old sailing ship that sank while carrying sugar from the Caribbean. Here, we got our first encounters with Carribean reef sharks – who kept teasingly circling round us, coming super close at some points! We also got to see the huge resident loggerhead turtle, Pickles, as well as slipper lobsters, pufferfish coupling up, and little shrimps and crabs tucked into the nooks and crannies of the wreck.
Tiger Beach – with Tiger Currents!
The next day we were finally set to do our sharkie Tiger Beach dives – only to be met with some of the strongest currents that the crew has ever experienced! We tried a dive at Shark Paradise, but the currents made it difficult to stick with the sharks. However, the sharks were around and happily playing with the currents, giving us lots of closeup photo and video opportunities.
We stuck to drift dives for the rest of the day – possibly the first group to have ever done a drift dive at Shark Paradise! It was totally worth it though, as suddenly in mid drift, I saw a huge boxy shadow heading towards me – our first tiger shark! She circled round and gave us a good look before heading off to continue her sharkie business. It was an awesome first encounter, and gave us a huge boosts that the big girls were around, even with the crazy in water conditions.
Action at the Beach
Fortunately on day 3, the currents had calmed down enough that we were able to do a “normal” shark dive. As soon as we dropped off the boat and made our way to towards the bow, my heart skipped a beat… like no waaaay!! There were two huge shadows circling round – two tiger sharks from the get go!! This is what it’s about! The bigger female was huge – at least 4 metres in length. It was truly awe inspiring to sit on the sand and watch them – the sheer boxy bulk of them, full of muscle and strength, and their beautiful stripey camouflage. They totally stole the show from the multitude of other lemon and carribean sharks around – we only had eyes for the tigers! And it seems that they had eyes for us to, coming up super close to check each and everyone one of us out!
Sharkie Filled Days
This awesome routine continued for the rest of the trip. While we didn’t see the tigers at every dive, we did see them every day, with awesome sustained encounters. When the tigers didn’t deign to make an appearance, the other sharks seemed to relax more, and were happy to pose and play with us. At one point, it seemed every diver was sprawled up getting eye to eye with a lazing lemon shark. We got to swim through shark melees, where you were literally surrounded by carribean reef sharks. Super amazing!!
It wasn’t just all about sharks though – we also did some dives exploring the reef, and had a couple of fantastic encounters with eagle rays – at one point, we had a school of seven rays winging their way past us!
Up on the boat, our shark education continued with Katy giving a talk on the research that she is currently doing on blacktip sharks in Baja. Jay also gave a talk about his exploration in Baja, and the amazing encounters and experiences that can be had with the charismatic animals that make it home at certain times of the year.
As the week came to a sharkie end, we sadly had to say goodbye to our new big fishie friends. We even had a beautiful little (2.5 metres) tiger shark that came to say goodbye to us during our last shark dive, totally gatecrashing our group photo attempt! The sharkies at Tiger Beach, and the encounters and interactions they gave us totally stole my heart, and I’d happily go back and see them again in a heartbeat!
But now, I am back on dry land, and it is time to say super sharkie thank yous to our amazing crew – Captain Christy, Ellen, Rodney, Luis and Caleb (chef extraordinaire – still dreaming of those ribs!). These guys really made the trip, and helped us have fun despite tricky conditions. And my fellow ninjas and shark lovers – Val, Derrick, Tom, Elisabeth, Katy, Tanya, Azhan, Dr Pepper, and of course Ninja Jay Clue! Lots of love to my shark ninjas – can’t wait for our next trip!!
Interested in joining Dive Ninjas for our next shark expedition? Or finding out what other Ninja adventures are planned? Send us a message today!
Ninja Family Guest Writer:
Lover of all marine animals big and small – and ok, yes, I like diving a lot! When not underwater, I can be found in London with my goldfish.
Follow Sze Wei on Instagram