Swim with Nurse Sharks

Discover and Play with the Nurse Sharks of the Exumas

Snorkeling with nurse sharks

Swimming with sharks is not always dangerous, in fact, it can be a lot of fun. Nurse sharks, the bottom-dwelling sharks that live in warm, shallow waters of the Bahamas are a friendly bunch. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to get up close. Although carnivorous and bearing rows of thousands of impressive, serrated teeth, the nurse sharks are – for the most part – harmless to swimmers and snorkelers.

Nurse sharks may have the ominous dorsal fin of a predator but they are much more easygoing than your average shark. These sharks are greyish-brown in appearance, reach 7.5 to 9.75 feet long, and weigh up to 300 pounds! Young nurse sharks can be identified by their spots. Nurse sharks feed on the fish, squid, and crabs of shallow ocean floors, and use their strong jaws to crush and eat shellfish, and even coral.

Is it safe to swim with nurse sharks?

A human fear of sharks is not without reason, but it just so happens that nurse sharks are laid-back and mostly harmless. That is why many divers and snorkelers visit the Bahamas to swim with sharks. Nurse sharks that live near marinas are fed by local fisherman and have grown accustomed to the presence of humans. This makes them much more friendly. Having your own private charter in the Bahamas allows you to take advantage of every opportunity to swim with the nurse sharks.

Tips for Swimming with Nurse Sharks:

Pet their backs, and avoid their mouths
Do not feed sharks while swimming
Be smart – don’t harass sharks
Avoid the water if bleeding

Divers swim with nurse sharks every day, and attacks on humans are rare. It’s okay to touch nurse sharks, and most incidents are caused when a shark is outright provoked with force. Nurse sharks are often fed to bring them closer to divers and snorkelers, but it is recommended that divers do not try to feed nurse sharks while swimming with them. When observing nurse sharks, it’s important that your limbs are not near their jaws and jagged teeth. Keep in mind that nurse sharks can be pet on their backs, and it’s best not to harass them in any way.

They may be mild-mannered, but just like any creature, nurse sharks do not like to be stepped on or provoked. The nurse shark has a defensive bite. Keeping your cool around nurse sharks will help you to avoid any mishaps. Given that sharks are naturally carnivorous, nurse sharks can also be drawn to the scent of blood. If you are bleeding, it’s best to avoid a shark encounter.

When you keep these tips in mind, swimming with nurse sharks is safe and remains a favorite attraction for divers and snorkelers in the Bahamas – often becoming the most unique and memorable highlight of an already amazing trip.

Where’s the best place to swim with nurse sharks in the Bahamas?

One of the most well-sought places to swim with nurse sharks is located within a small chain of islands in the Bahamas known as the Exumas. The tropical waters of Compass Cay hold a number of sharks that the islanders consider welcome guests. Compass Cay is a private island in the Outer Exumas, where the sharks are known to be well-fed and -behaved. Time and experience has proven that the nurse sharks of Compass Cay are docile and even friendly with people.

This makes the Bahamas a perfect charter destination for shark lovers.

This is your chance to pet the sharks

There’s no need to wait for the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week only to encounter them at a distance – dive in with swarms of sharks while in the Bahamas. At Compass Cay, touching a shark is an everyday thing. The nurse sharks make an interesting sound and will squeal when they play. You’ll also notice their skin feels like sandpaper when they bump up against you.

What makes swimming with nurse sharks so special is they are moving slowly and don’t seem to mind the attention. In fact, these gentle sharks resemble a giant catfish and sometimes welcome human interaction. Nurse sharks pile lazily together near the shallows of islands and spend a lot of time resting and swimming. This also makes them great subjects for underwater photography – so don’t forget your camera!

The marina of Compass Cay offers an amazing opportunity to get up close to nurse sharks, but having your own charter in the Bahamas makes it much easier to find them in the surrounding Exumas. Renting your own charter to swim with nurse sharks is the best way to go. Having your own boat gives you plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding waters and swim with the sharks of the Exumas.