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Shark Snorkeling?

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Columbus, Ohio
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Shark Snorkeling?

I'm headed to Roatan in May, will be doing a lot of snorkeling. Anyone ever been able to find a good spot to snorkel with sharks? Specifically nurse sharks.

Calypso, North...
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1. Re: Shark Snorkeling?

There is a well known Shark dive located fairly near the cruise ship port labeled as "Mahogany Bay". That dive site is at 75' of depth and a site called Cara a Cara, being frequented by fast moving Pelagic Sharks with lots of pointy teeth, you know... Sharky Sharks. They are brought in for a visit through the habituation of feeding in a niche environment that they were previously known to frequent. It is common wisdom with such "aggressive eaters" that the safest place for a human is to be located ANYWHERE EXCEPT the surface. Mr. Grey associates his best food choices with distressed animals that seem to be thrashing around on the surface. This means dying fish, poodles, and alas, non-SCUBA humans (snorkelers do qualify nicely). They have rows of pointy incisor shaped toofesses. They are, in fact, quite apprehensive even of the exhaled bubble stream of SCUBA Divers. Skittish yes, but a regularly scheduled feeding of a block of frozen fish guts (a chumsickle) brings them in like teenagers barking at a Domino's driver.

Nurse Sharks are different critters. They are comparatively sedentary bottom feeders. These guys like to go after buried Crustaceans, Rays, Octopus, and shelled beasties. Crunch,crunch, crunch between jaws of teeth designed more for grinding, like molars. They can clamp onto a human... if provoked. (This makes for some hilarious YouTube videos, well,,, hilarious for you and me, not so much for the idiot human or the po'd Nurse Shark- after all that work, no food for him)

If provoked. That's the key, and the hidden answer to your question. Being sedentary, it was always the very macho thing to do to go down, grab ahold of their tails and impress other critters who were likely wearing bikinis. Being Sharks, they did what they did, and in the final outcome, that means they skeedaddled. Show me a common snorkeling site anywhere in the Oceans, and I will show you no Nurse Sharks. Oh, yes, Dive Masters enhanced their tips (for a short term) by doing this Steve Irwin imitation. The Nurse Sharks disappeared, along with that method of impressing guests. Now, most DMs surreptitiously feed fish out of secreted baggies to impress the guests.

Short answer then is: No, not likely, except by sheer accident. All Sharks are indeed highly predictable creatures of habit, IF left undisturbed Nurse Sharks can usually be located with regularity amongst the same shallow coral heads on a daily basis. This is not the case often or for very long as they are discovered.

The Bay Islands used to be a once-a-day kind of Nurse Shark environment. Now, you are lucky if you see one in a week. Besides harassment, they got easily taken by subsistence fishermen using meat-hook techniques.

The most frequent and dependable sightings for me have been far East along the South side, in the shallows in front of Oak Ridge area (Reef House Resort) where very few divers are there to mess with them. This is also due to the fact that local dive operations have always been smart as to how to coexist with wildlife, their DMs are not doofusses.

Shallow, coral heads, lack of humans... Go South East, Or.....

Think about what I call, "The Best of What's Left", and that not only refers to the Bay Islands but the Caribbean as well. Go to the Bay Islands and revel in what it has in exclusivity (for now). It's the cool macro stuff- I know that's hard on snorkeling- but stay very shallow, in a couple of feet, and look for the small cool stuff. There is an array of such things still extant in the Bay Islands that is better than anything else that remains in the Caribbean.

Go for what is there, see what is there. It's good stuff !

San Francisco...
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2. Re: Shark Snorkeling?

We did a lot of snorkeling and diving on Roatan, and hands-down the best snorkeling was right off shore in West Bay, especially at the end near the rocks. We snorkeled at several different spots on the island (even though everyone said don't bother leaving West Bay for snorkeling), and it's true that you can't get better than West Bay. The calm and clarity was just incredible! However we did not see any nurse sharks (only saw nurse sharks on our dives). Have you thought about getting your dive certification? We had snorkeled all over the world, and finally decided to take it a step further and got our Open Water PADIs on Roatan (it was so cheap!). While the snorkeling on Roatan was great, you are missing out on so much if you don't go diving there. It's one of the best dive spots we've traveled to. Something to think about! Either way, you are going to love the island and water. It's an amazing place! : ) Here are a few photos from our snorkeling adventures in West Bay, you'll see how clear the water was: www.bucketlistbums.com/roatan-honduras/

Columbus, Ohio
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3. Re: Shark Snorkeling?

Excellent responses, thank you both!

So would renting a car to check out other spots to snorkel be pointless?

Would I need any "pre" diving classes done here in the States, or could I do it all there and get some diving in there? If so, how long would all that take there in Roatan and how much would it cost me?

Columbus, Ohio
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4. Re: Shark Snorkeling?

Doh, I just clicked on your link traveltrotter50, and that told me everything I needed to know about getting certified down there!

Oakville, Canada
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5. Re: Shark Snorkeling?

traveltrotter50 - your pictures are fantastic, thanks for sharing. We are newly licenced scuba divers and you are right it is addicting. We did some diving there in February and loved it so much we are heading back in May to get our advanced. Questions for you - which dive site did you see the nurse sharks on? (would love to see-even though would be scared!!) What type of underwater camera do you have to take such great pictures - we are in the market for one. thanks in advance.

San Francisco...
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6. Re: Shark Snorkeling?

Wease7, we considered renting a car, but glad we didn't. We really just stayed at West Bay for snorkeling and the dive shop (dive shop took us by boat to different dive sites) and then took a cab into West End a few times for dinner. I highly recommend doing the PADI online class before you head to Roatan. We did ours a month before the trip - it's just a bunch of videos and quizzes you do online through the PADI site (took me just a few days). That way in Roatan all you have to do is learn the in-the-water stuff (the fun stuff!). : )

nelehk, thank you! : ) Yea Roatan got us hooked on the diving. Since get certified we've been diving in Cozumel, Belize, Bali, Lombok, Jordan, Maui, Oahu and the Philippines in a couple of weeks. We found that sleeping nurse shark at Canyon Reef - but you know how it is, it's all luck! Nurse Sharks aren't frightening at all, you will be captivated by how pretty they are. : ) You might consider Belize for your next dive trip after Roatan. It shares the same reef. We went diving there last April and we literally saw nurse sharks on every single dive we did. We actually saw four types of shark diving in Belize. We saw more sharks than we did turtles. It was crazy awesome! : )

Bethlehem...
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7. Re: Shark Snorkeling?

Don't know if it qualifies as a good spot, but I saw two different nurse sharks snorkeling in Sandy Bay last week. One large one on the bottom just outside the reef and a much smaller one under a coral ledge inside the reef.

Columbus, Ohio
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8. Re: Shark Snorkeling?

Yes, that for sure qualifies! Thanks! How deep were you? I'm assuming just off the beach?

Bethlehem...
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9. Re: Shark Snorkeling?

Off the beach in Sandy Bay is a bit of a swim. The small nurse shark was inside the reef in about 8 feet of water near the "path" through the reef. The larger nurse shark was outside the reef, maybe 20 - 25 feet down on the bottom of one of the canyons in the coral.

Canada
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10. Re: Shark Snorkeling?

Turns out, you can snorkel with sharks and survive! :)

https:/…