During our recent trip to Nassau, we had the opportunity to go on a shark feed with Stuart Cove’s dive operation. All we can say is - WOW! What an awesome experience. We started the two tank dive by descending into the shark arena, which is a large sandy circle surrounded by rocks. Hungry reef and nurse sharks were already patrolling the area when we showed up. They know when dinner is on its way!
Most folks spent their time sifting through the soft white sand for shark teeth. Ben and I kicked around taking video and exploring the other life. We came across a sea turtle and stingray resting on the bottom. The sun was up and the seeing was excellent.
For awhile, I just sat on the bottom in the middle of the circle and watched the sharks and how they casually swam around and through all the divers. A slow current was evident but nothing concerning. The 45 minute dive was incredibly comfortable and entertaining. At the end, everyone did their safety stop and got back on the boat for a quick tank change.
With everyone accounted for on the boat (and only one seasick diver), we swapped out tanks and listened to our divemaster, Rich, begin his safety brief for the shark feed. The feeders and photo/video staff would be wearing chain mail suits. The gist of the program is this: sit in a circle kneeling, sitting, or lying on the bottom and use a rock to anchor yourself. This part is important because the sharks get anxious for the free lunch and jostle you around as they swim in for a tasty bite. Most importantly, we were instructed to keep our hands to ourselves! Rich made a sweeping overhead motion as he would while holding the pointy stick used for stabbing fish and feeding the sharks safely. Don’t make this motion!
The divers hopped in and the divemasters helped everyone get comfortable. Start to finish the feed is 45 minutes long so comfort was definitely a consideration. We had also been instructed to strap on a few extra pounds of lead to keep us on the bottom. Once everyone was situated, our shark feeders brought the fish box into the circle and it was on!
As you can see in the video, sharks were absolutely everywhere! Swimming all around and making passes at the bait box, you would almost lose sight of the feeders there were so many shark bodies. Nurse sharks hugged the ocean floor and jammed their noses into the bait box from every angle trying to score a meal. The bigger reef sharks just circled and swooped in over and over. The fish barely made it out of the box before being snagged in the jaws of one of the flashing gray streaks.
The crew brought the bait box and set it in front of each and every person on the dive so they could get in on the action. The film and photo crew were top notch and made sure they got some mementos for everybody. While they were in front of me, I managed to pet one of the nurse sharks as it swam by. There were so many nurse sharks trying to get in the box, our divemasters had to literally pick them up and move them out of the way!
After everyone had their turn and the sharks had a couple scooby snacks, the feeders swam out of the circle to draw off the sharks so we could all ascend and do our safety stops. We didn’t mess around. We had been instructed to get on the boat as soon as possible so the feeder could get out of the water safely and with plenty of air remaining.
Everyone was buzzing back aboard the boat. The feeders came up to applause and handshakes. They really had put on an amazing show and most importantly kept everyone safe. If you get a chance to do one of these, take it! You won’t regret it. Don’t forget to tip your divemasters and captain!