Great Hammerhead Sharks

The Great Hammerhead sharks really are very special… There is literally nowhere else in the world where you can come face-to-face with these incredible animals so reliably. Large, increasingly rare and generally solitary animals – Great Hammerheads are really difficult to see underwater.

When underwater encounters do happen they are typically fleeting at best, but not in Bimini! Where every winter a healthy population of Great Hammerheads gathers just off the coast of the  island.

The annual aggregation of Great Hammerheads was discovered by the staff of Dr Samuel Gruber’s Bimini Shark Lab back in 2002… But the lab managed to keep the whole thing to themselves for over 10 years. However word eventually got out and South Bimini is now firmly established as Great Hammerhead Central!

So unique is the situation that trips get booked up very quickly… Personally it took me two attempts and a one-year advance booking to do mine.

Hammerheads are regarded as aggressive hunters that feed on smaller fish, octopus, squid and crustaceans. But they are not known to attack humans unless provoked. In Bimini they are tempted in close by feeding them. And the whole thing is carefully organized to give the participants maximum exposure to the animals.

Which is done by limiting the number of people in the water at any time to six participants. Plus one “feeder” and a safety diver watching your backs.

The feeder is in the middle with an aluminum bait box (to keep the sharks from getting over excited…). There are three participants on either side who rotate positions after 15 minutes. So that everybody gets a turn next to the bait box where it can get very exciting!

There are usually 12 people on a trip, so after 45 minutes you get a tap on the shoulder. Which means it’s time to give up your place and return to the boat. The safety diver is there not because of the hammerheads that often roam around behind you. But because of the Bull Sharks that are also quite common in Bimini…

Bull Shark

Divers will enjoy crystal clear water with great visibility (often 80 – 100 feet) and temps of around 25’C (78’F). The hammerheads are remarkably willing to come close to divers and photographers revel in the opportunity to get simply amazing shots. These enormous and graceful sharks will swim inches from your camera as they meander across the sandy sea floor.

Bull, tigers and nurse sharks are mixed in and provide great action. Despite their reputation, the bull sharks are rarely aggressive (although you will certainly see assertive behavior during the encounters). And, because you’ll be diving sites relative close to deep water, it is possible that other sharks, most commonly tiger & reef sharks, will join the party.