Trip Report Tiger Beach October 2021

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Dan

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Summary
This is a liveaboard diving trip (23-29 October, 2021) to Tiger Beach, Bahamas, with M/Y Dolphin Dream. The itinerary, as shown in Table 1, includes 5 days of shark diving, 1st diving day is without bait. We did a total of 13 dives.

Table 1.jpg


Figure 1 shows the M/Y Dolphin Dream ~80 mile (130 km) cruising route (marked by red arrow) from West Palm Beach to Tiger Beach, Bahamas, which took about 5 hours of crossing. We saw 6 kinds of sharks (Bull, Great Hammerhead, Lemon, Nurse, Reef, & Tiger), some typical Caribbean fishes (Gray Anglefish, French Anglefish, Squirrelfish, Yellowtail Snapper, Spotted Eel, Black Grouper, Spadefish, Stingray, etc.) and a Loggerhead Sea Turtle.

1Tiger Beach map.jpg

Figure 1: M/Y Dolphin Dream route to Tiger Beach, Bahamas (courtesy of Google Earth)

Here is a short video of the highlight of what I saw during the 5 days of shark diving in Tiger Beach, Bahamas:


Background
Tiger Beach, Bahamas is about about 80 miles (130 km) east off West Palm Beach, Florida, as shown in Figure 1, above.. It would take about 5-hour voyage from West Palm Beach to Tiger Beach.

Since I live near Houston, Texas, it was an easy 2.5-hour nonstop flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which is great way in minimizing exposure to strangers in the airport during this pandemic period.

This is my first time to do shark diving. The original trip was supposed to be in November last year. It was rescheduled to this October, 2021 due to the pandemic. The water temperatures in Tiger Beach are reported to about 80-84 °F (27-29 °C). I brought a 5mm full wetsuit with hood. The water temperature turned out to be as reported and I was comfortable with the wetsuit.


The Liveaboard

M/Y Dolphin Deam, as shown in Figure 2, is 86-foot (26m) ship with 6 cabins, catering for up to 12 guests, see Tiger Beach live Aboard. (sharkexpedition.com) for more detail info.


Dolphin Deam.JPG

Figure 2: M/Y Dolphin Deam (courtesy of Dolphin Dream Team)

It runs by 4-5 crews (a captain, 2-3 deck diving crew and a cook) for 12 guests on this trip. So, they work very hard to maintain day-to-day operation of the boat and to serve the guests.

The boat layout is very functional for divers. Galley, dinning, and entertainment areas are on the main deck. Camera station and dive deck are outside on the back of the main deck. Six cabins are in lower deck. The upper deck is a sundeck with open air sitting area for people to relax in between diving, where people can spread out and keep social distancing.

Setting up our dive gears and handling them are typical day-boat diving. Since we would be staying on sandy bottom in most of the dives, we want to be over weighted. They recommend to add 6-8 lbs (3-4 kg). I normally dive with 10 lb dive weight with AL80 tank and 5mm wetsuit. On this trip, I put 18 lbs (9 kg) dive weight. We also need to wear dark-color hood and gloves to avoid exposed white skin and blonde hair to be mistaken as fish food to the sharks, especially those beginner divers who like to use hands to swim or balance themselves while diving.

The meals (breakfast, lunch & dinner) were buffet type. Continental breakfast started at 7am. Hot breakfast started at 9:30am. Lunch started at 12:30pm. Dinner started at 7:30pm. The food were excellent. Special dietary meal were served to those who asked for it.

Everyone is fully COVID-19 vaccinated and none wearing mask during the trip.

The diving
On the first day of diving we dove without bait. So, it’s just a normal, easy diving, in clear-blue water. The shark diving started on the 2nd day of diving. Water entry is done by a giant stride. If you have camera, it’ll be handed to you after you get in the water. Then descend on the downline one diver at a time, especially when the current is strong. We meet at the bottom.

When you reach 1000 psig air pressure in your tank, it’s time to head back to the boat to make sure you still have 500 psig when you return ack to the boat.

On the way back to the boat, when the current is strong, crawl on the sand passing the downline, then inflate the BCD, ascend to the downline without too much finning effort. There would be a maximum of 3 divers on the downline. One diver at a time swimming to the ladder. Count 15 after the diver in front of you disappear from the surface, before you swim up to the ladder. Don’t swim at the surface. Don’t splash.

No DECO diving. Dive time is 45 to 90 minutes.

When a Tiger shark bumps you, push it away

We saw 6 kinds of sharks (Bull, Great Hammerhead, Lemon, Nurse, Reef, & Tiger), some typical Caribbean fishes (Gray Anglefish, French Anglefish, Squirrelfish, Yellowtail Snapper, Spotted Eel, Black Grouper, Spadefish, Stingray, etc.) and a Loggerhead Sea Turtle. On the last dive we saw 4 Tiger sharks and quite a few of Lemmon Sharks and Reef Sharks. They made quite a spectacle sand clouds, as you see in the last few minutes of the trip video.


Conclusions
My impression of the Tiger Shark diving and the trip are very positive. If you want to see Tiger e Shark in a clear blue water up close, Tiger Beach, Bahamas, is the right place to go. Dolphin Dream Team is top notch in keeping us safe, handling the Sharks and showing us the incredible close encounter of the Tiger Shark kind.
 

mcohen1021

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GOOD LORD OP - your video was outstanding. I'm doing a dec lob trip, but to exuma
 
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Dan

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GOOD LORD OP - your video was outstanding. I'm doing a dec lob trip, but to exuma
Thanks for the compliment. A clear, shallow blue water would help the video greatly.

I bet Exuma would be similar conditions. Have fun there!
 

Lorenzoid

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What exactly is Tiger Beach? On your map it looks like it's sort of offshore of Grand Bahama island, but it's not a clear map. Is it a tiny islet, or is it on Grand Bahama?
 

mcohen1021

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Thanks for the compliment. A clear, shallow blue water would help the video greatly.

I bet Exuma would be similar conditions. Have fun there!
From what I can tell, we could see hammers, reef and nurse sharks, but nothing crazy like that. but I will one day see the tigers and i'd love to see a lemon.

Unfortunately, we were supposed to be going to philippines this month, from the canceled trip last year, but didnt work out. I was able to find a dec special on the aggressor and low miles awards flights!
 

drrich2

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Fine, detailed report that'll doubtless be useful to others. The 2 main regional destinations out of the U.S. I know for tiger sharks are Jupiter, Florida and Tiger Beach, Bahamas. You make a nice point about the blue, high-viz. water being a plus.

For me...I'm glad I went to Jupiter. Viz. wasn't as good as I figure you had. The reason is I've read the tiger sharks out of Jupiter tended to not be as large as some of the Tiger Beach tigers; I saw 3 separate individuals, 2 females near 10 feet long and a male a bit smaller (but still big enough to kill somebody). Really enjoyed it! Most of the time it was just one tiger; there was one dive with a female and the male together (which makes things interesting; how to have your 'head on a swivel' watching them when they aren't sticking together?).

But having experienced being in the water with those sharks, if someone now suggested being in the water with a 15 footer, or 4 tiger sharks at once...uh, wow. That might be a little too rich for my blood. Like an article I read about an oceanic white-tip dive trip near Cat Island in the Bahamas. Maybe I was born to be mild?

To be fair, I've only had 1 shark-fed dive trip to Jupiter, and did 7 dives on that trip. I haven't heard of what's showing up typically in season there now.
 
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From what I can tell, we could see hammers, reef and nurse sharks, but nothing crazy like that. but I will one day see the tigers and i'd love to see a lemon.

Unfortunately, we were supposed to be going to philippines this month, from the canceled trip last year, but didnt work out. I was able to find a dec special on the aggressor and low miles awards flights!
I saw Great Hammerhead briefly in Tiger Beach, while busy keeping eyes on 3 Tiger Sharks, so no time to video the Hammerhead. I heard you’ll have a better chance to see one in Bimini, which would be my next Shark Diving trip.
 
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Dan

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What exactly is Tiger Beach? On your map it looks like it's sort of offshore of Grand Bahama island, but it's not a clear map. Is it a tiny islet, or is it on Grand Bahama?
Tiger Beach is a shallow, 35-40 foot deep, bank, north of West End Bahamas. That map I posted in Figure 1 is a screen capture of what you can see from Google Earth.

Here’s more info about Tiger Beach from the horse’s mouth, so to speak (guy who found and named the place, Captain Scott Smith):
“Tiger Beach is one of the most, if not the most, premiere shark diving location in the world. If you like diving with sharks and have not been to Tiger Beach you are missing out! Schedule your trip with the Dolphin Dream Team for the very best in liveaboard Tiger Beach diving today!

Tiger Beach was discovered in the late 80s by Captain Scott Smith. The area was well known for a great scuba diving and as a wild dolphin snorkeling area before its addition to the relatively short list of world class shark diving destinations. There are also wrecks in the area that the team sometimes visit on their trips. Captain Scott has been bringing divers and snorkelers to this area for over two decadesto enjoy pristine waters and interaction with all the local inhabitants.
During Captain Scott's early snorkel trips, the fresh fish caught for meals on the boat would provide fishy table scraps that were tied off to the back of the boat at night. The Tiger Sharks would come in at night to pick up the handy snacks provided. This went on occasionally for years resulting in some of the first published pictures of Tiger Sharks taken by professional photographers.
The colorful coral and sponges as well as diver-sized crevices and canals along the reef at the dive site offer divers and snorkelers many excellent photographic opportunities. There is a sea grass “meadow” which makes another nice backdrop for photos. The shallow reef bar is located about a mile from a deep water drop off. This shallow reef makes for a comfortable place to anchor at night. This one square mile area has been known for years as the Dry Bar. Recently it was renamed to Tiger Beach because it is an awesome place to dive with Tiger Sharks.”
 
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