Trip Report: 2020 Tiger Sharks & Hammerheads in Bahamas

Hammerhead closeup

Scuba diving with Tiger Shark and Great Hammerheads aboard the MV Dolphin Dream Feb & March 2020

Each season, Tiger Beach, Bahamas exceeds expectations with  clear water, white sands, and loads of sharks of many species.

Missed 2021, but back to normal for 2022: My 2022 Tiger Shark Hammerhead Dive trips

Dolphin Dream at anchor
The Dolphin Dream is a spacious boat for diving with space inside and outside to relax
  • Looking back now, this was the last bit of “normal” for 2020: as we pulled into the dock, we were hit with how our world had changed while we were gone (and it will continue to change) as the the Covid 19 pandemic effected our lives. Everyone made it back but many would be in lockdown for months.

An international collection of divers was onboard from Slovenia, Israel, Japan, USA, and Canada. We were lucky to have only small interruptions due to weather: on the first trip we decided to go to Bimini first as conditions there were better than at Tiger Beach. Usual practice is to do the opposite: Tiger Beach first then down to Bimini for more hammerheads.

Tiger shark and fish

Our 2nd trip had a special guest: Dr Erich Kurt Ritter (edit: who has since passed away, a great loss) , a renowned experimental shark behaviorist focusing on shark – human interaction. He is considered a pioneer in the field of shark interaction with humans and has developed the first interaction concept for swimmers and divers that allows safe interaction with any shark species.  Dr Ritter is a regular visitor to the Dolphin Dream shark dive trips so the crew, captain, and guests all benefit from his knowledge.

Dolphin Dream Shark Dive
Guests relax in the spacious lounge of the Dolphin Dream
The dive deck of the Dolphin Dream
Diving is conducted at the back of the boat

We had fascinating presentations from Dr Ritter each evening where he explained his research, finding, and recommendations for safe interactions in all situations.

Hammerhead shark and diver
A guest has a close up view of a Great Hammerhead at Bimini
Grey Anglefish
Tiger Beach has a few small reefs nearby
Some of the components of his safe interaction concept (ADORE-SANE)

Direction: The way a shark approaches a person indicates its intention.  The more directly it swims towards a person, the more interested it likely is.

Reference: The shark’s approach from below the observer should be seen as rather cautious due to their more camouflaged position against the darker background . Contrarily, a shark swimming above a person seems then more comfortable with the situation given its disadvantage to the background camouflage

Tiger Shark at Tiger Beach
A tiger Shark swims overhead
Tasty meals served on board
Meals feature healthy entrees and vegetables

His book is fascinating (Shark – Human Interaction 2nd edition by Erich K Ritter) and I will study it and refer to in for all future trips. 

Tiger Shark
Photographing Tiger Sharks at Tiger Beach
photograph multiple tiger sharks
We often have multiple full size tiger sharks at one time at Tiger Beach

His observations greatly informed my ability to read the safety of the shark movements while underwater. He is a great asset and advocate for the shark diving and spearfishing communi

Lemon Sharks at the surface
When Preparing for your Shark Dive in the Bahamas

We recommend 5mm – 7mm full wetsuits with hood / hood vest  to stay comfortable on the long dives.  Please try to have black or plain gear – just in case the sharks are attracted by color and pattern

The water is warm 76 – 85’ F  but given our long dive times, I still recommend a long sleeve, long legged wetsuit of 5mm (or 3mm if you run warm) a hood or hood vest.

We recommend the dive gear be as free from decoration (such as stripes) and color as possible so as to not make the sharks curious about you.

Hammerhead Shark
Patches the Hammerhead at Tiger Beach

Open heel fins or full foot fins both work. Weightbelts tend to be very long so if you like a shorter belt, bring your own.  BCD with weight pockets work too.  We tend to weight divers a bit heavy so it is easy to stay at the bottom and motionless.

Tiger Shark
Photographing Tiger Sharks at Tiger Beach

Bring a few moderate to warm pieces of clothing for mornings and evenings including a warm hat just in case.

Most of the time it will be shorts and Tshirt weather while on the boat.

Tiger Shark and fish

Traveling to the Shark Cruise

This is an easy trip to get to as we launch and return via West Palm Beach USA

You can plan your travel to West Palm Beach (PBI) or alternately to Miami(MIA), Fort Lauderdale (FLL), or even Orlando (MCO)  We get a discount rate at a hotel for the night before and after for those who want to arrive the day before or need to stay over after. Rental cars, train, or taxi can get you between the FLL , MIA, and West Palm Beach

We depart from Riviera Beach Marina in West Palm Beach, FLorida

 We ask everyone to be on the boat at  5pm on the 3 March. The boat travels overnight to Bahamas. We clear customs in the Bahamas then get out to the dive site late morning.
We return mid morning (plan on 11am) on the 11  March. Allow 2 hours commute to Miami and at least 1:15 to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando is at least 2 hours.   The dock is 20 minutes or less to the West Palm Beach airport. 

Travel Options from Miami and Fort Lauderdale airport: 

 Rent a car on arrival then use it to get to Riviera Beach Marina.

 Your own Car:  there is free parking at the marina

 Uber and Taxis can give you a transfer but given traffic and distance this could be expensive

There is a train that starts at the Miami Airport with stops at the Fort Lauderdale Airport and in West Palm Beach.  A taxi can complete your travel to either the hotel or the marina

Join a Shark Dive in 2021: My 2021 Tiger Shark Hammerhead Dive trips