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sharks in the caribean

Old Dec 4th, 2005, 09:09 AM
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sharks in the caribean

I have always wondered what is the rate of shark attacks in the caribbean? I love the idea of just wading, swimming, or snorkeling in the beautiful blue waters, but I think the fear of animals still frightens me to really enjoy it. Has anyone heard of attacks, and how safe is it?
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Old Dec 4th, 2005, 09:40 AM
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Luckily for me (and the many other people who love travel to the Caribbean), most of the sharks in the region are of the non-people-eating variety.

The main three or four sharks that are associated with attacking humans (Great White, mako, bull, oceanic white-tip) are not commonly found in Caribbean waters, or or not found close in to shore. (Bulls do occasionally.)

Most of the Caribbean sharks are reef dwellers and just want to eat fish - not you.

We've actauuly paid to dive WITH sharks in the Bahamas, and there were 30 or so close enough to touch, but I was never afraid.

I regard sharks kind of like I do bees - if you leave them alone, they'll leave you alone.

Go and enjoy your swimming and wading. The Caribbean has far fewer attacks every year than almost every other region.

This will make you feel better:

See...not even on the chart.
Diana is offline  
Old Dec 4th, 2005, 11:48 AM
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Dusk until dawn would be a good time to avoid the water though.
Just common sense.
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Old Dec 4th, 2005, 12:19 PM
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I agree not to worry about shark attacks. The Caribbean and Bahamian islands have many sharks, but not the real aggressive kind as Diana mentioned. The Bull shark, however, can be and is found in the waters. Sharks do not like the taste of humans and we are not on their narrow band of foodstuffs in the shark menu. Just be cautious because most Caribbean shark attacks happen due to false identity. When they attack, they mistake a human for something else. To prevent being mis-identified by a shark or barracuda, take off your sparkling jewelry when wading along the shore. They may see a reflection and believe it is a fish scale reflection. Do not snorkel, wade or swim at night, in the early morning or at dusk. The reef fish population is too large to "house" the many dwellers, so we have night fish (squirrel fish, etc.) and day time fish. The reefs could never support both populations all at once. Trouble is, during these waking and retiring hours, there is much fish activity and abundance while one population is retiring to the reef and the other is departing from the reef. Thus, the sharks grow very active, too, and are on the hunt. Also, because of the dim sunlight, they may mistake you for a fish as well and you won't be able to see them as quickly if they curiously approach. And, don't spearfish unless you're an expert! There were 3 shark attacks in Abaco's waters last summer...all neophyte spearfishermen. Sharks are apex predators but not bloodthirsty killers as Hollywood portrays them. They limit what they eat and actually keep the reef populations in balance. They do attack and bite humans now and then, but almost immediately spit the out; they just don't consider us a delicacy. If you do encounter a shark, though, remember it might protect its space...even a "harmless" nurse shark. Swim slowly away to diminish that threat. This behavior will neutralize that cause for attack. With millions and millions of humans snorkeling, wading, swimming, and snorkeling, less than 80 unprovoked attacks each year pretty well proves they don't consider us a feasible food item. To totally reduce the chances of becoming prey to a shark, swim with others around you, since sharks, after initially mistaking you for a fish, often select "loners" (That's why fish swim is huge schools). I wouldn't go to far off the beach, even with a flotation device, because you'll further isolate yourself. If you have a cut or open sore, don't go in the water (duh!!)They can detect a few parts of blood per billion..evolutionary perfect predators! Make good use of your mask and if you see hoards of bait fish growing uneasy or darting away...raise your antennae, too. They may have spotted a shark. While snorkely in the boat dock area on Tortola next to Pusser's Pub, I was frightened to see a silver torpedo coming straing at me. It was thousands of bait fish fleeing from a shark which was hidden under a docked yatch in the marina, hiding in the shallow. I was 20 feet under, and the "torpedo" sped right over me. Then, I heard the dockmaster yelling, along with my wife. I surfaced quickly and got out of the water. The shark, however, had been watching me snorkel in the marina for 45 minutes. It glided slowly away. So, keep your eye out for the little schools of silvery fish, which hang out around shorelines. Slso, watch the seabirds, if they begin to dive excitedly, they're after a large school of bait fish...and so are the sharks. If the activity is near you, take a shore break. You know why reef fish have such unusual patterns and colors? No, not to entertain salt water aquarium enthusiasts. The patterns break up their figure. Do the same and don't wear suits that are brightly colored, because it will contrast with the rest of your body, and predators are equipped to see such contrasts. No, I'm not saying to swim nude, but don some colors that don't wildly offset your skin color. If you practice these strategems, your chances of shark attack are about as likely as winning the Ohio Lottery; i.e., being hit by a ping pong ball thrown out of the space station over Ohio. I know I often write too much, but I love my lifetime of reef fish surveying the Caribbean and Bahamas. Have fun...the carribean waters ARE addicting! Robert
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Old Dec 4th, 2005, 01:04 PM
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Thank you for the informative post. I learned a lot.
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Old Dec 4th, 2005, 09:25 PM
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Robert: Thanks for all of that great info. Of the dozens of times I've snorkeled in Caribbean waters, I have personally only seen 2 nurse sharks who were so scared of me they swam away immediately. I love the large sting rays, the bigger the more interesting to me. All of these critters are so frightened of humans, they tend to take off more often than not. The big barracudas aren't as shy, but they are just curious more than anything else. I swam through a group of huge tarpon recently and thought they were absolutely awe-inspiring.
Dancingqueen: I hope your fears don't prevent you from enjoying something I think is absolutely one of the greatest experiences in life.
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Old Dec 5th, 2005, 04:02 AM
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Robert, I love your posts! You do NOT write too much! Keep 'em coming, guy.

Oooh, how creepy to realize you've been observed for a long time by a shark...were you wearing your hot pink wetsuit and your bling bling that day ?
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Old Dec 5th, 2005, 08:58 AM
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Joan; The sharks may confuse me with a newborn dolphin in that garb. I snorkeled around the yatchs after drinking a few heavy german beers at Pusser's washing deep-fried french fries and jalapena peppers. I think they deep fried them in castor oil. I burped a few times underwater. Maybe that's why the shark mosied off to better waters. Robert
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Old Dec 5th, 2005, 11:13 AM
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Don't worry about the sharks in the water just have your wits with u. There is more concern with the sharks on land than in the water!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old Dec 6th, 2005, 11:48 AM
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true and even sang about by Jimmy Buffet.....
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