It had been a long time in the making, but finally we were on our way to dive with the Oceanic Whitetip Sharks of Cat Island in The Bahamas. Thoughts of big sharks in clear blue warm water filled our heads as our small plane took off from Nassau to take us to Cat Island. The sharks only visit this island for a few months each year, with the best chances of seeing them in April or May, and only a handful of dive operators offer trips to see them. This year we got lucky and all the pieces of our trip fell into place – now all we needed was for the sharks to show up!
We stayed at Greenwood Beach Resort, a small 16 room hotel right on one of the most beautiful beaches you could wish for. The resort offers diving and kite-surfing, so if it is calm you can explore below the water and if it is windy you can try your hand at kite-surfing. We only had one full day on island, and so our focus was fully on our shark dive.
For this, Shark Explorers Bahamas were on hand to take us out first thing in the morning on a speed boat to start our search for these iconic sharks. We headed out to deeper water and they started to attract the sharks with chum. With only four divers on board and two members of staff, this was the sort of shark diving that dreams are made of – as long as the sharks turned up, and after two hours of sitting gently bobbing in the sunshine, we started to wonder.
Lili turned to us and said that if we did not get any luck in the next few minutes, they would move to another location that had been successful in the past. She said this was very unusual and that most days saw the shark arrive in minutes rather than hours. As she spoke to us, one of the divers calmly said “Isn’t that one just behind you?” and it turned out he was right in one respect, an Oceanic Whitetip was right by the prop, fin breaking the surface, but there was not one, but two in the water behind the boat.
We awoke from our rocking induced lull into a frenzy of action as we grabbed our diving and photography gear and headed to the back of the boat. The plan was to hang in around 5m of water and let the sharks swim around us until someone needed to change tanks. It was not long before all five divers were in the water and marvelling at the power and elegance of the sharks. Oceanic Whitetips are curious and so will come in very close to check you out. Soon we had 5-7 sharks around us, as we drifted gently towards land into shallower water and it was this, about an hour later, that forced us up onto the boat to restart the process in deep water again.
In addition to the Oceanic Whitetip Sharks, we also had Caribbean Reef Sharks and a tiny Sharpnose Shark – a species we had never seen before. Lady Luck was with us and we spent another long dive with the sharks before it was time to head back to shore.
We relaxed on the terrace as the sun went down and relived our dive, showing images and video clips. The next morning we grabbed the chance to have a quick snorkel on a local reef, to get a flavour of what else Cat Island has to offer, before, all to soon, it was time to pack up and head back to the airport and on to our next Bahamian adventure.
For more information please visit:
Images & text by Frogfish Photography
- Olympus OMD EM-1 MKII
- Nikon D800
- Nauticam Housings
- Inon Strobes
- Paralenz Dive Camera