Sand Tiger Shark Question

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rob.mwpropane

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Good day all,

Had an EPIC dive Sunday on the Dina Dee II out of NJ. There were sand tigers everywhere. So much so that the captain said he's never seen that many on a wreck. It was really awesome.

I've never had the chance to dive with sharks ever before as I'm not usually in the ocean. I have seen enough discovery channel shows to know that sand tigers are pretty harmless, but what's the proper "etiquette" to dive with sand tigers? I'm not looking to touch them at all, but how close can you get? I also don't want to scare them off.

On this trip I got about 10' from one, he was a little smaller but he got curious what I was and turned towards me.... pretty sure my air consumption shot way up for about 30 seconds. If I ever make it back, how close can I get a gopro... what does everyone do? Has anyone ever been bitten by sand tiger? I guess if I had known I would have read up on them ahead of time, but I'm told it's pretty rare to see them (and on the other hand, maybe they're always there but the viz isn't good enough to see them:oops::D).

When I say everywhere there was at least ~ 20... one guy that ties us in said there had to be 30, but he was 1st on the wreck. There was a few that were so fat I wouldn't have been able to wrap my arms around them. There is something to be said about not being the apex predator in any situation. I'm in awe of just how magnificent the ocean really is.
 

svs

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You are lucky to see them in NJ. I saw plenty in NC but never in NJ. From NC experience they usually keep some distance, and each shark decides how far or close. I never heard of sand tigers biting divers outside from few spearfishing situations. They dive with sand tigers all summer long in NC and do not complain about bites.
 
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rob.mwpropane

rob.mwpropane

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You are lucky to see them in NJ. I saw plenty in NC but never in NJ. From NC experience they usually keep some distance, and each shark decides how far or close. I never heard of sand tigers biting divers outside from few spearfishing situations. They dive with sand tigers all summer long in NC and do not complain about bites.

I consider myself extremely lucky, especially because this was only my 4th 3rd trip out. I'm just not sure it could get much better than that.

I know NC has them, but I always managed to get blown out of NC.

I guess I'm wondering to sand tigers feel threatened if you get too close? I would have loved to have the balls to just slowly make my way into the pack, but I don't want to be an idiot. I mean, they were everywhere. There was actually a piece of the wreck about 20 yards off the main wreck and I started to swim towards it, but it just felt like the game frogger and they were coming from both ways so I swam back to the main part, lol.
 

svs

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From my experience if you approach too aggressively they just move away. If you want to get close by you need to be slow and patient. It also helps if other divers behave the same way. I did not see many aggressive reactions. I think if shark stops and kind of bends its body you may consider it not a welcome sign.
 
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rob.mwpropane

rob.mwpropane

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From my experience if you approach too aggressively they just move away. If you want to get close by you need to be slow and patient. It also helps if other divers behave the same way. I did not see many aggressive reactions. I think if shark stops and kind of bends its body you may consider it not a welcome sign.

Slow and patient is just about the only diving I do.

I had one come at me a little, and they were curious about the other guy digging for lobsters, but they never got too close.

We did have someone spear fishing inside the wreck, they could of cared less.
 

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They will get pretty close to you, they don't seem too skittish at all usually.

A few weeks ago we dove on the Aeolus in NC - there was a decent current so most divers stayed on the stern where the boat was tied in (wreck is in multiple pieces in almost an L shape). Normally you have pretty good odds of seeing sand tigers there but that day there weren't any. Because we were on DPVs my buddy and I took a quick trip to the bow and back. Right as we got to the bow a 7-8' sand tiger came across teh bow, crossed right in front of us and then turned down my right side to pass us, close enough that had I stuck my right elbow out I would have likely made contact with it. Wasn't phased at all by us, or the DPVs (which I was curious about before we got in the water). We were running at speed 4, so roughly 150 feet per min if I remember correctly. It was a really cool moment.
 
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rob.mwpropane

rob.mwpropane

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They will get pretty close to you, they don't seem too skittish at all usually.

A few weeks ago we dove on the Aeolus in NC - there was a decent current so most divers stayed on the stern where the boat was tied in (wreck is in multiple pieces in almost an L shape). Normally you have pretty good odds of seeing sand tigers there but that day there weren't any. Because we were on DPVs my buddy and I took a quick trip to the bow and back. Right as we got to the bow a 7-8' sand tiger came across teh bow, crossed right in front of us and then turned down my right side to pass us, close enough that had I stuck my right elbow out I would have likely made contact with it. Wasn't phased at all by us, or the DPVs (which I was curious about before we got in the water). We were running at speed 4, so roughly 150 feet per min if I remember correctly. It was a really cool moment.
So I guess that begs the question, how close would you (or anyone) be comfortable getting on purpose.

It's one thing to bump into one, but a complete other to get really close on purpose... yeah?
 

AustinV

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So I guess that begs the question, how close would you (or anyone) be comfortable getting on purpose.

It's one thing to bump into one, but a complete other to get really close on purpose... yeah?

Yeah, that's the closest I've been to one and it as completely unintentional. I think the shark surprised us coming around the corner and we surprised the shark, viz was a little iffy and we met right at the tip of the bow - basically we were going counter-clockwise around and it was going clockwise.

Other than that encounter I'd say closest I have been is probably 5-6 feet away. I don't want to bother them or scare them off, I wouldn't be worried about them being aggressive, I've seen them not like a diver being around them for whatever reason (or maybe I'm assuming?) and they'll take off real quick.

I'm surprised you saw them in NJ though this time of year, I thought they mostly headed further south once it cooled down a bit. Really cool experience, congrats!
 
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rob.mwpropane

rob.mwpropane

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Yeah, that's the closest I've been to one and it as completely unintentional. I think the shark surprised us coming around the corner and we surprised the shark, viz was a little iffy and we met right at the tip of the bow - basically we were going counter-clockwise around and it was going clockwise.

Other than that encounter I'd say closest I have been is probably 5-6 feet away. I don't want to bother them or scare them off, I wouldn't be worried about them being aggressive, I've seen them not like a diver being around them for whatever reason (or maybe I'm assuming?) and they'll take off real quick.

I'm surprised you saw them in NJ though this time of year, I thought they mostly headed further south once it cooled down a bit. Really cool experience, congrats!

It was epic. It was absolutely amazing.. one of the best dives of my "career".

I don't think the water was warm, but it wasn't really cold yet either ~ 64F. There's a video online posted by the captain, I'll link it but I believe you have to be on FB to see it;

 

O-ring

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I've bumped into them before on accident (they were so thick it was unavoidable) and all they did was look at me. I didn't see it, but one of my buddies said one was tailing me once and eyeing my fins hungrily so he scootered toward it aggressively and it took off (it was a Gavin so was prob bigger than the shark..). I've been close enough to touch them on numerous occasions and they haven't bothered me, but that proximity was never intentional...kinda like Austin said, we popped out of a wreck or around a corner and there were a couple like right there.
 

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