A Surprise: Swim With Sharks in The Bahamas If You Dare

Arriving at Compass Cay

“Here’s the rules. The guy who owns this place don’t mess around. You do anything wrong and he’ll have you booted off the island, okay, these are SHARKS, guys. Even though you can swim with sharks in The Bahamas, that doesn’t mean they can’t turn on you. There’s a whole swarm of them, they could eat you in a minute flat.”

Quietly, we all stared ahead at the captain. We thought he was being serious with the Thunderball Grotto rules, but that speech had nothing on the nursing sharks.

“So, when you get there, you need to keep your hands OUT of the water. They have suctions under their mouths; that’s how they eat. If they think your hand is food, your fingernails will be gone in a second. They fast, okay? So, just keep your hands out of the water and don’t do anything that’ll provoke them…..Okay. Follow me,” our guide said, stepping off the boat.

We followed him through the sea of yachts connected to the pier and down the ladder leading into the crystal blue water. The colors were darker here. Maybe it was just because it was deeper, but there was something mysterious about it.

Time To Swim With The Sharks In The Bahamas

I looked ahead. Even though I saw my first shark in The Bahamas yesterday, it was nothing compared to this. There were at least twenty nursing sharks circling the couple that stood ahead in the water. Our guide chucked a piece of squid to the left and I watched as the sharks swarmed in, snapping above the surface and making the meat disappear within the blink of an eye. He was right, they were fast.

Now designating us as the food source, the sharks began to do their figure-eights around us, waiting for the next snack to appear. I reached my hand out, petting the back of the shark as he glided by. It was odd, definitely not what I expected. When you look at a shark, you have this opinion form in your head: Its skin looks soft, rubbery…smooth. However, when I touched the nursing shark, it felt like sandpaper, more of the feeling you get when a cat licks your hand. It was anything but smooth.

An Unexpected Chomp

I heard another chomp and a gasp come from the right. Looking over, I saw a man clutching his hand.

“You all right?” our captain shouted.

“Yup!” he said, unveiling the blood dripping down his hand.

As he began to suck the red streaks with his teeth, the captain just shook his head, saying, “Go to the Med Tent. Just go to the Med Tent. They’ll take care of you.”

We all looked around with concerned eyes. I mean, isn’t the first thing we learned about sharks when we were kids is that they can smell blood from miles and miles away? This guy was standing a mere 20 feet from us with a bleeding hand. I wasn’t ready to partake in a feeding frenzy if I was going to be one of the dishes.

The calmness of the captains settled us. Not that the thought of the Med Tent being an everyday thing while swimming with sharks in The Bahamas was soothing, but the fact that we were still okay down here was comforting. The statistics of us getting bit was low now and we thanked the poor tourist for taking one for the team.

Swimming With Sharks In The Bahamas at Compass Cay
The Bahamas

Saying Goodbye To The Sharks In The Bahamas

I edged away from the circling sharks and took a swim over to the side of the docks. I figured all of the sharks were around the food, but I was sorely mistaken. Beneath the pier was an entire boatload asleep on the ocean floor. I watched as the dark shadows lined their jagged shapes, slowly swaying back and forth in the current. It left me with an eerie feeling.

“Okay guys! Time for lunch; let’s go!” our captain shouted over the excitement.

As I climbed back up the steep ladder and onto the boardwalk of the pier, I took one last glance back at the sharks. It was fascinating, honestly. The idea that the iguanas, the pigs, the stingrays, the turtles and the sharks in The Bahamas all still lived in the wild, yet had the freedom to explore the open ocean. Even so, they frequented on the shores where people like myself could come and visit their exotic ways without caging them up and plopping them in a zoo. The Bahamas truly is a once in a lifetime experience and even though I was only in the country for a week, I couldn’t help but think of how lucky I was, how lucky I am.

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