Bahamas – Tiger Beach & Bimini

Tiger Beach in the Bahamas has been on our radar ever since we heard about it. A legendary shark oasis somewhere in the Bahamas…yes please! We learned that this special region was “discovered” in 2002 by Jim Abernethy, a conservationist who pioneered cage less shark diving and has been on a lifelong mission to dispel myths about sharks. His daily videos about showing sharks affection and not viewing them as predators was one of the top reasons why we signed up for a week on board the M/V Shear Water in February, the perfect time to experience both great hammerheads and tiger sharks. After meeting Jim and the Shearwater staff (Hex – dive master, Beau – chef, Rob – captain), we joined 8 other divers on the 65 foot liveaboard vessel and got settled in. Jim was running on adrenaline and proceeded to give us a lengthy and passionate 3 hour briefing on what to expect in the upcoming week! But first, a long crossing from Riviera Beach to Grand Bahamas where we got stamped in by immigration the next morning. Since we weren’t allowed to step foot in the Bahamas, everyone on board the Shearwater was exempt from the mandatory negative COVID-19 test that the Bahamas requires all visitors arriving by air to have. From Grand Bahamas, we had a short journey up to Tiger Beach where we spent 4 of our 6 dive days. Unfortunately, one dive day was impacted by adverse swells so we had to find an alternative dive site which ended up being the chain wreck, a 100 year old anchor chain. However, the remaining 3 days of non stop curious tiger shark action gave us more than enough memories to last a lifetime. The tiger sharks’ sheer bulky size combined with their slow predictable movements was mesmerizing and despite spending hours observing their behavior, it still wasn’t enough. From Tiger Beach, we moved south to Bimini where we spent our last 2 dive days with great hammerheads. We have seen scalloped hammerheads in the Galapagos and Cocos Island but the great hammerheads blew us away. They are simply massive, magnificent, highly maneuverable, and stunning creatures. A magical afternoon encounter lasting several hours with Queenie and her pilot fish entourage circling around all of us while making eye contact will forever live in our memories. What an amazing experience and we returned back to Florida with a new found love and respect for sharks. It looks like Jim offers a 10 day trip to dive with Oceanic whitetip sharks so we will be back!

On board the M/V Shear Water for a week of diving at Tiger Beach and Bimini At Grand Bahamas waiting to clear immigration/customs Jim inspecting the loggerhead and green sea turtles 4 month old turtles awaiting release Becky holding up a loggerhead and green sea turtle Diving deck of the M/V Shear Water Lemon sharks greet us at Tiger Beach Massive tiger sharks await us at Tiger Beach Keep your head on a swivel around tiger sharks - they are very curious and will sneak up on you Tiger shark coming in for a close up Curious tiger shark Tiger sharks can grow up to 12 to 18 feet long! Yes, that is us on the sandy bottom and the tiger shark really is that big in comparison! The three amigos (Becky, Robby & Sebastian) in tight formation as we watch a tiger shark leisurely swim by Becky and a barracuda It is very important to have a dive buddy watch your back around tiger sharks as we were told to always maintain eye contact Robby and Sebastian smile after recounting that morning's adrenaline pumping dive Caribbean reef sharks at Tiger Beach Tiger sharks are the second largest predatory shark (behind the great white) Spending hours every day watching tiger sharks never got old Sting ray at Tiger Beach The tiger sharks at Tiger Beach were remarkably calm and curious Robby keeps an eye on a tiger shark Rough seas and a dangerous swell on day 3 prevented us from diving at Tiger Beach Reef fish at Chain Wreck, a 100 year old anchor chain Lionfish; Chain Wreck This barracuda followed us around Chain Wreck Reef fish at Chain Wreck Jim and Hex lure lemon sharks in for surface shots Lemon shark trying to score an easy meal Lemon shark coming in for some fish Feeding time Happy lemon sharks Open wide! Jim and Rich fixing the scratches on their dome after the lemon shark feeding A healthy reef at Tiger Beach A tiger shark moves in for a closer inspection Tiger shark at a colorful reef Robby smiles as we prepare for a shark-filled afternoon A gorgeous sunset over Tiger Beach Poor flying fish! They got trapped on board the M/V Shear Water during our overnight transit to Bimini Robby using sand paper to buff out the scratches from Becky's acrylic dome Hammerhead silhouette Great hammerhead tooth inspection Two great hammerhead sharks check us out Jim Abernethy and a great hammerhead shark Great hammerhead at the center of everyone's attention Nurse sharks gather at the base of the bait box Small pilot fish in front of a great hammerhead Great Hammerhead sharks grow up to be a whopping 16 - 20 feet long! Queenie is one of Bimini's biggest Great Hammerhead sharks and the tip of her dorsal fin is over 6 feet tall Nurse shark at Bimini Portrait of a great hammerhead and its pilot fish Rich took one of Becky's favorite photos of the trip - Becky and Queenie after a magical afternoon together Beau kept us well fed on the trip and we indulged in dessert every night Robby chilling in the top bunk of the Dolphin Room Beau making us dinner before the rough crossing back to West Palm Beach We earned the coolest dive t-shirts after a week with Jim Abernethy Ally manages to prevent a tiger shark from stealing her camera with her calm deflection move and Rich caught it in this bad ass photo! Woody smiles as he is finally back on land after a week on board the Shear Water visuallight boxby v6.1

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