Where can I see Sharks?
In the UK, yes that's right, you read it right!
The UK has over 40 species in its waters and at least 21 of these are here all year round. Although you may not be able to see them from the beach you'll certainly be able to see evidence of them. Have you ever seen these (or similiar) on a walk along your local beach?
These are egg cases, also known as Mermaids Purses. You often find empty ones washed up on the beach. You can find them while diving too - they're usually attached to something, and if you look through it or shine your torch through them you might see something wriggling around inside! Don't touch them though, they can be very delicate.
The above also includes Ray & Skate eggs - these are closely related to Sharks too!
The most common species that we see regularly while out diving around Dorset include:
- Smooth Hound
- Smallspotted Catfish
Others popular around the UK (that have also been spotted in Dorset) include:
- Basking Shark
- Thresher Shark
- Mako Shark
- Blue Shark
Check out this fantastic guide from The Sharks Trust on different types of Sharks and Rays around the UK and how you can ID them!
How can I see Sharks in the UK?
The majority of the time you just come across them while out diving. We regularly see Dogfish, Tope and Smooth-Hounds off the coast of Dorset when we're diving off the boat.
However, if you want more of an experience you can go on specific sighting trips. You can find trips to snorkel with Blue Sharks around Cornwall & Devon aswell as snorkelling trips in Scotland with Basking Sharks.
Both amazing experiences.
We have a trip booked to Plymouth in August where we will have an opportunity to snorkel with Blue Sharks and aim to run this trip on a yearly booking - with 2022 trip currently in the making, so keep your eyes peeled on our trips booking page. There are also some spaces remainig for August ;)
What about other Sharks around the World?
Well, there are plenty out there! Where do we start? Here's a short list and a bit of information on the most popular places to go diving and see sharks....
1. Galapagos Islands
Sharks: Great Hammerheads, Scalloped Hammerheads, Smooth Hammerheads, Whale Sharks, Tiger Sharks, Whitetip & Blacktip Reef Sharks, Port Jackson Sharks and Galapagos Sharks (yes! They have their very own Shark!). These are to name a few!
I think the Galapagoes Islands are on 90% of scuba divers bucket lists! Not only does it have an abundance of Sharks but it also has much more spectacular marine life including the Worlds only Marine Iguana(!), Manta Rays, Turtles and Sea Lions as well as some amazing topography both in and out of the water.
With its 18 islands it's now recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
And the best bit? The diving season is practically year round!
Sharks: Tiger Sharks, Bull Sharks, Lemon Sharks, Great Hammerhead Sharks, Carribean Reef Sharks and Oceanic Whitetips.
The Bahamas have an amazing 700 individual islands covering 5,358 sq. miles in The Atlantic Ocean! Divers are spoilt for choice with dive sites and locations. Tiger Beach is by far the main attraction for thrill seeking scuba divers. Here, there is a group of resident Tiger Sharks. Divers are gathered on the sandy bottom at around 20 metres and the skilled shark handlers feed the sharks while you sit back in a circle and watch. Other Sharks also join in, such as Lemon Sharks, Carribean Reef Sharks and Nurse Sharks.
Another breath taking expereince is in Bimini with the Great Hammerheads. A local dive operator runs small trips out to a location where they've discovered a resident "hang out" for these usually shy species of Hammerhead. The divers are instructed to sit on the sandy bottom at a shallow depth of no more than 6m to watch these beautiful creatures feed.
3. Malapascua, Philippines
Sharks: Thresher Sharks. Other Shark species nearby: Whale Shark, Whitetip Reef Sharks, Silvertip Sharks, Bamboo Sharks, Bull Sharks, Hammerheads, Giant Guitarfish, Great White Shark, Tiger Shark and Oceanic Whitetip Sharks.
Malapascua Island is very well known for its resident Pelagic Thresher Sharks that inhabit the waters. It is the smallest species of Thresher Shark (growing to approx. 3 metres) and is easily recognisable by its elongated caudial fin. Because of this longer fin it makes them amazing swimmers and can even help them jump out the water! They use their fins like a whip to kill/stun their prey. They're not aggressive and can be quite shy when they see divers. Unfortunately the local population are declining due to ilegal fishing and pollution :(
There are other local dive sites full of spectacular life and other Shark species.
4. Cocos Island, Costa Rica
Sharks: Scalloped Hammerheads, Great Hammerheads, Whale Sharks, Common Threshers, Silvertip Sharks, Silky Sharks,Galapagoes Sharks, Blacktip Sharks, Tiger Sharks, Nurse Sharks and Whitetip Reef Sharks.
Cocos Island is located in the Pacific Ocean 342 miles offf Costa Rica's mainland. There are no permanent residents on the Island, it is only inhabited by the National Park rangers. It's only accessible for scuba divers via a liveaboard trip.
With the island surrounded by deep waters and counter currents it brings an amazing array of marine life. Not just Sharks but Whales, Dolphins, Ray and much much more! Because of its unique ecology and life the island and its surrounding waters were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
Sharks: Whale Sharks, Bull Sharks, Great White Sharks
You can do various Shark diving experiences in Mexico. Three popular ones are Great Whites in Guadalupe, Whale Shark snorkelling in Cancun and Bull Shark diving in Playa Del Carman.
Guadalupe is one of the top diving destinations for Great Whites. It's a small island located off the coast of the Baja California Peninsula. They promise clear visibility of up to 45m with a 99% guarantee of seeing Great Whites. You are submerged down to around 10m in a cage while the curious Sharks circle you.
Cancun's warm waters provide a surplus amount of plankton for Whale Sharks to feed on. Every year from June - September Whale Sharks come to the area to feed. This makes it a great opportunity for an unforgettable snorkelling experience. The Whale Shark is the biggest fish in the sea but is very peaceful and only interested in eating the microscopic plankton in the water column. Snorkelling is best with these gentle giants, but you may come across some while you're diving locally.
Bull Sharks can be found in Playa Del Carmen between November & March. During these months you'll find them in the shallower waters, making it accessible for those beginner divers too!
Other diving in Mexico includes encounters with other great marine life such as Manta Rays, Crocodiles, Hammerheads, Mobula Rays, Turtles and Manatees - as well as some awesome cenotes & cave diving!
Other fab Shark diving destinations include:
- French Polynesia
- South Africa
- The East & West coasts of America
What you need to know about diving with Sharks (or any marine life!)
ALWAYS arrange your diving with a trusted operator. Check their customer reviews, check their itineraries and procedures and if in doubt contact them and ask! If you feel uncomfortable about anything, don't do it.
While this is a great opportunity to get up and close to some spectacular life, you still need to respect their space in their territory.
Remember: Sharks (wildlife) predominantly attack if they feel threatened i.e. if you're too close or doing something silly.
Lets be honest, with over 500 different species of Shark in the World Shark attacks do happen....But very rarely. You're more likely to be hit by a moving vehicle than you are to be attacked by a Shark. Check out PADI's list of everyday things that are more dangerous than Shark Diving. Did you know, on average there are approximately 60 confirmed Shark attacks around the World every year? And only 5-15 of them are fatal.
They don't intentionally attack you, they are more curious - it's not their fault they were given big sharp teeth and a ferocious smile! It's essentially the same as a cute, fluffy puppy running up to you to play....Right?
Attacks can be provoked or unprovoked and research has concluded 6 main reasons why they attack:
- No respect
- Animal personality
- Confusion of senses
- Food in the water
Keep your distance, stay calm, don't distract them. Just stay back and observe.
Here's some helpful information from The Sharks Trust about diving in the presence of Sharks.
If you want to browse specific diving holidays with Sharks check out the PADI Travel website. They'll have safe, trustworthy dive operator listed on their website for this kind of diving. Failing that, it could give you a handful of good ideas for your next trip!
Don't forget to come in and tell us all about your diving experiences!
Keep an eye out on our trips, as we do several trips throughout the year and some may include Shark encounters or other encounters with amazing life.
Happy Shark Week!