Smitty asks each person if they are okay, using scuba hand signals. Once the group is kneeling in a semi-circle, backs against the coral head, he signals his brother, Captain Delbert, to drop the bait bucket from the stern platform.
The sharks and a variety of reef fish, including big grouper, yellow-tail snappers, and blue stripe grunts, swim with controlled curiosity until the bucket pierces the turquoise water with a splash.
Immediately, they converge on the bucket, hitting it with their noses, bouncing it around like a volleyball. Before the bucket hits the white sand bottom, the sharks fiercely tear off the plastic wrapping and expose the bait. Fins, tails, teeth, and sand fly everywhere.
Wide-eyed divers stare at the spectacle, underwater cameras flashing. The feeding frenzy lasts only a minute, but the guests of honor continue to cruise effortlessly, hoping for a second course. All too quickly the furor is over and the sharks return to their curious inspection, sometimes within arm’s length of a diver’s mask, providing an opportunity for the patient photographer to single out specific sharks and capture that one photo depicting the wild beauty of these majestic creatures.
The divers check gauges for available air, bottom time and film. Smitty’s signal begins the slow ascent to the surface after what feels like a quick 30 minutes. While shedding fins, masks, tanks, and wetsuits, divers breathlessly describe their experiences with “Did you see that… ” and hope to have captured this thrilling adventure on film.
The luncheon guests continue circling the dive boat anchored in the flat calm, clear Caribbean Sea. It is lunchtime for all on board now, whether they braved the shark-infested waters or not.
“No food for the cowards,” shouts one diver with adrenaline still racing through his veins.
“That was the best dive of my life,” exclaims another soggy, awe-struck diver while packing away her gear.
Smitty and Delbert claim it’s like this every day in the Bahamas — bright sunny skies meeting warm clear blue water in all directions.
“Don’t go home tomorrow and we’ll bring you back here next week,” Smitty teases. And after a dive like that, it’s an offer worth considering.
If You Go
Bahamian dive operations offering shark dives:
UNEXSO Nassau Scuba Center
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island
New Providence Island
Stuart Cove’s Dive South Ocean
New Providence Island
Walker ’s Cay
Xanadu Undersea Adventures
Freeport, Grand Bahama
Stella Maris Resort
Long Island, Bahamas
Bahamas Ministry of Tourism