Sharks on Blue Religion Expeditions - Part I

Sharks are fascinating creatures. They are apex predators of our oceans, they keep the populations of fish below them in the food chain in balance and they are absolutely indispensable for the health of our oceans. It’s worth seeing the sharks in their natural habitat and observing their beauty and interesting behavior.


Tiger shark, Caribbean reef shark, Lemon shark,
shark waters

Our expeditions offer different shark encounters in different environments, but during all of them, we focus on the same principles. All our shark experiences are based on respect for the animals and maximum safety measures for you. There is at least one guide and shark specialist behavior in the water with you during the whole experience. We always observe the behavior of the animals before we jump into the water. When in the water, we treat the animals with caution and respect that they deserve as apex predators of our oceans. With this in mind, we can enjoy the beautiful and close encounters with these fascinating animals that you’ll never forget.


Learning about shark behavior is one of the most important parts of our expeditions. Sharks don’t just swim around and bite everything and everyone, they are much more complex than that. We will teach you about their body language and behavior which varies from species and is based on many different factors.



Here is the first part of the shark species we encounter on our expeditions:


Great hammerhead shark


The great hammerhead is the largest of all hammerhead species, reaching a maximum known length of 6m. The body of great hammerhead is dusky brown to light gray on the dorsal surface, fading to a cream-colored underside. Their first dorsal fin is tall. They can be easily recognized by their size and hammer shape of their head.


Great hammerheads primarily feed on prey on the seafloor, such as stingrays, octopuses, squids, crustaceans, and other sharks. Great hammerheads are vulnerable to overfishing. This shark is heavily fished for its large fins, which are valuable on the Chinese market as the main ingredient of shark fin soup. As a result, great hammerhead populations are declining worldwide, and it has been assessed as critically endangered.


Behavior:

Great hammerheads are a part of the total top of the shark hierarchy (along with white sharks, tiger sharks, and bull sharks). They are huge in size and very powerful. They usually swim close to the bottom scanning it for rays with their huge hammer. They rarely come close to the surface. The easiest way to observe their behavior is by scuba diving. Great hammerheads do not have a tendency of bumping into divers. Only if you are positioning yourself too close to the source of food.


Expeditions to encounter great hammerhead sharks:

BAHAMAS: Tiger Beach Liveaboard Expedition


Bull shark


They are medium-size sharks, grow to 2,1 – 3,3 meters in length, and weigh up to 220 kilos. They have thick, stout bodies and long pectoral fins. They can be easily recognized by their short blunt snout. Their coloration is light to dark grey with a dirty white underbelly.


The bull shark is not a picky eater. The sharks eat mostly fish, but can also eat other shark species, marine mammals, birds, and turtles. The numbers of bull sharks are shrinking and they are considered a near-threatened species.


Behavior:

Bull shark is a big-sized shark that is one of the species on the top of the shark hierarchy. When feeding, other smaller sharks give them space to feed first. Bull sharks prefer to stay close to the ocean floor in shallow areas. They are migratory reef sharks. That is why the best way to observe their behavior is by scuba diving. Bull sharks have a very interesting behavior of approaching directly to divers with a slow speed and turning away just a few steps before the diver. They don´t like fast movements like fast kicking, they have a tendency of following the fast-moving object (diver) at a rapid speed. (as the object resembles a struggling fish) When approached slowly and carefully they are nonaggressive sharks, great to dive with.


Expeditions to encounter bull sharks:

BAHAMAS: Tiger Beach Liveaboard Expedition

RIVIERA MAYA: Bull sharks, Cozumel reef, and Cenotes


Mako shark



Fastest shark of all thanks to its tail packed with muscle and perfect skin texture to lower drag. Their body is streamlined and relatively slender, they have pointed snouts, crescent-shaped tails, and long slender teeth. The largest adults may approach 4,5 meters in length. Mako sharks are a highly migratory pelagic species and can travel across entire oceans.


These sharks are usually solitary creatures and they swim long distances to move from food source to food source. They feed on marine fishes such as bluefish, swordfish, tuna, marine mammals, and other sharks. They are being heavily targeted for their fins and are considered an endangered species.


Behavior:

Mako shark is a mid-sized oceanic shark. Their behavior is very similar to white sharks but they are smaller in size and therefore much easier (safer) to interact with. They are solitary sharks, gathering (not in big numbers) only when feeding on the same prey or mating. It is nearly impossible to encounter mako sharks without attracting them to the area by chumming the water. If there is more than one shark approaching the bait, the bigger ones are usually the ones that get to stay. Big Mako sharks are very confident when approaching each other or swimmers. Swimming with Mako sharks is safe only with professional shark guides as sometimes is necessary to deter them away from divers.


Expeditions to encounter mako sharks:

BAJA: Mako, Blue Sharks, and Mobulas Expedition


Caribbean reef shark


They have a gray-brown-colored skin with a white-yellow underbelly. The snout of this shark is relatively short, broad, and rounded. Their pectoral fins have dark coloration from the bottom side and their eyes are large and round with nictitating membranes. Most Caribbean reef sharks encountered by divers are about 1,6m in length.