Sharks in the Bahamas

Shark Bite 101
By Mike Porath
Page 2 of 3   |  
Article Menu

"Another misconception about sharks is that they have this incredible biting power. But they have about the same biting power as we do," Cove says."What they actually do is bite and then they tear, and they got all these rows of teeth like razors."

That may be true, but sharks' double-jointed jaws can open wide enough to swallow a basketball, which is quite a bit bigger than my noggin. Cove laughs. His wife, Michelle, a shark diving professional in her own right, had her scalp sliced open by a Caribbean reef shark — the most dangerous shark in the Bahamian waters, he says — the same kind I'll be swimming with. But he claims it was her own fault: She spilled a bait box on the ocean floor and bent over to retrieve the fish. After snapping down on her head, the shark let go and she swam to the surface safely, leaving a red trail behind. "A case of mistaken identity," Cove says with a smile. I'm not smiling.

"But as soon as they bite you, they always let go," he says. "They realize, no this isn't grouper or this isn't snapper. I don't want it."
What do you mean as soon as they bite you? Cove forgets to mention that we will be feeding the sharks. And just like a dog might nip your hand while you're slipping leftovers under the dinner table, these sharks might nip us while chomping down on tuna heads we have to offer. Is this what I bargained for?

"No worries," he says. All shark feeders wear chain mail over their hands and arms, under their wetsuits. And the fish is not hand fed (deep breath). We'll jab tuna heads from a bait box with a three-foot steel rod. "All you have to do is hold the rod out away from you and they'll come get it," Cove says. "Believe me, they'll come get it." And he makes a point to explain why not to hold the rod over my head. You don't want bait scraps floating down on you. Remember what happened to his wife?

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »