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Diving with Oceanic Whitetip Sharks 2022

By June 8, 2022June 11th, 2022No Comments

A Big Fish Expeditions Trip Report

Oceanic Whitetip Shark Diving Expedition 2022

Another great Oceanic Whitetip Trip! This year we had consistent oceanic whitetip sharks (at least eleven sharks everyday) plus a couple of silky sharks, and a handful of Caribbean reef sharks whenever we drifted close enough to the reef to pick up inshore sharks.

Diving with oceanic whitetip sharks at Cat Island in the Bahamas.
Consistent Oceanic Whitetip Shark Action

If you have looked for oceanics at other so-called hotspots, you’d be forgiven for thinking that oceanics are difficult to see. Unlike the Red Sea or Hawaii, at Cat Island it usually only takes a few minutes to get the first shark, and once you have them, oceanics stick to the boat like glue, which means that over the course of a day, you slowly collect more and more sharks.

Diving with Oceanic Whitetip Sharks at Cat Island.
Blue Water Silky

We often get a few juvenile Silky Sharks out in deep water. This year we only had one but it was a nice sized shark and completely unblemished.

Silky shark at Cat Island, Bahamas.
Photo Opps

As usual, I tried to get snaps of as many divers as possible. In oceanic shark photography, a diver adds perspective to illustrate the large size of the sharks. Plus, I enjoy sending guests home with souvenir shots if I can get them.

Diving with oceanic whitetip sharks
Oceanic Whitetips in Shallow Water

As a rule, oceanic whitetip sharks avoid shallow water. You make get very lucky and see one in the distance while you’re finning along a reef but that rarely happens.

The oceanics we work with at Cat Island are becoming bolder each year. Whereas a few seasons ago, it took all day to get them to swim near a reef, now when we drift inshore, a handful of oceanic whitetips follow without looking particularly agitated. They still tend to stick by the boat rather than dropping onto the reef to explore, but I suspect they will become relaxed enough to get shots of them among the coral heads eventually.

Diving with oceanic whitetip sharks at Cat Island in the Bahamas.
Caribbean Reef Sharks

While we were playing with the oceanics in the shallows, a handful of smallish Caribbean Reef Sharks showed up. They were kind of shy around their much beefier cousins, so I snapped a couple of shots for posterity and then concentrated on the big guys.

Caribbean Reef Shark
Windy Weather

For most of the trip, the weather was a bit windy but not windy enough to keep us from diving. Once underwater, we were immersed in calm. Unlike other shark feeds where the bait crate remains attached to the boat, at Cat Island, once a few oceanics show up, we release the crate and let it drift in the current tethered to a surface buoy. Consequently, even if there is a ripping current, once you’re floating 10m down, surrounded by oceanic whitetips, you don’t notice any surface chop or current, so you barely have to kick. The most important thing is to have good buoyancy, because the bottom is 3000ft below. If you get runaway negative buoyancy, you can be at great depth in no time. fortunately, everyone in the group had excellent buoyancy, hanging out with ease at the 10m level.

Diving with oceanic whitetip sharks at Cat Island in the Bahamas.
Challenging Over/Unders.

During our surface intervals, some of the more ambitious shooters in the group gathered at the swim step to try their hand at split frame photography, whereby you dunk your camera half underwater (while remaining on the boat) in order to capture the sharks and the sky at the same time.

The bigger your dome port, the easier it is to keep the waterline in the centre of the frame. I brought a tiny 10cm dome this year and the surface was rather choppy, so I did not waste much time on splits, but I enjoy the process so I could not resist having a quick try.
This one of an oceanic’s dorsal with a couple of pilot fish came out rather well 🙂

Oceanic whitetip over under
Bold and Brazen

Oceanics have been much maligned in the popular press. Their reputation is largely undeserved but they are definitely excitable. Attracting them with the smell of bait is enough to keep them in the area. If you start actively feeding them, they immediately start investigating more purposefully, so we make an effort to keep them relaxed so that everyone can enjoy close encounters while remaining relatively safe. Even so, its important to keep your head on a swivel, and to be ready to redirect the sharks with the PVC pole that we provide, if the sharks become too pushy.

Diving with oceanic whitetip sharks at Cat Island in the Bahamas.
Back to back Oceanic Whitetip Shark trips in 2023

Between the crystal clear water, abundant sharks, and our great group of avid shark divers, this year’s trip was pretty awesome! We have already filled one week for 2023, so we have decided to run two trips back to back. The second trip is about half full, so if you’d like to join us, please drop me a line as soon as possible, and I’ll send you some more info:
Dive with Oceanic Whitetip Sharks

Diving with oceanic whitetip sharks at Cat Island in the Bahamas.