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Sharks in the Caribbean: 3 Wonderful Species to See!

sharks in the Caribbean
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If you are looking for an unforgettable diving experience, you might want to consider diving with sharks in the Caribbean, from the shores of Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Playa del Carmen is a popular tourist destination on the Riviera Maya, known for its white sand beaches, turquoise water, and vibrant nightlife. But did you know that the ocean here is also home to a variety of sharks?

That’s right, you can swim and scuba dive with sharks in and near Playa del Carmen all year round. One of the most thrilling and rewarding experiences for scuba divers is to encounter sharks in their natural habitat. Sharks are fascinating and misunderstood animals that play a vital role in maintaining the health and balance of the ocean ecosystem.

There are a couple of different types of sharks in the Caribbean waters in the area. However, Bull Sharks, Whale Sharks, and Nurse Sharks are the ones you will most likely see depending on the time of year you are in Playa del Carmen.

DivePoint wants to thank our wonderful friend, Lotte Twaalfhoven for creating this article. 


Bull Sharks

Every year, from November to March, dozens of female bull sharks gather in the shallow waters off the coast of Playa del Carmen because they are pregnant. This offers a unique opportunity for divers to observe these magnificent animals up close and personal and that’s why Playa del Carmen is one of the best places in the world to dive with Bull Sharks.

Bull sharks are one of the most powerful and adaptable shark species in the world. They can live in both saltwater and freshwater, and have been found as far inland as the Amazon River and Lake Nicaragua. Males grow to about 7 feet (2.1 meters) in length and females get to about 11 feet (3.3 meters) or more.

Bull Sharks are very curious and intelligent and when you go diving with them you’ll see why. They come as close as a few meters, sometimes passing right above or below you. They are not interested in attacking or biting, but rather in checking out these strange visitors in their territory. They display their dominance by swimming slowly and confidently. Their mouth is slightly open to allow water to pass their gills, this is called ram ventilation. They also have individual personalities. Some are more shy and cautious, while others are more bold and inquisitive.

Unfortunately, Bull Sharks like other sharks are threatened by humans. Pollution, habitat degradation, finning practices, and fishing practices are detrimental for the population. When you dive with Bull Sharks in Playa del Carmen you are helping their conservation. Dive shops in the area have come together to raise money to pay off the fishermen in the area from fishing them and many dive shops are involved with citizen science about the species. Counting them and identifying them to get a better understanding of the shark population of bull sharks in the area.

bullsharks in Playa del Carmen
During the winter season, you can dive with bull sharks in Playa del Carmen


Nurse Sharks

The most common and harmless type of shark that you can see all year round in both Playa del Carmen and Cozumel is the Atlantic nurse shark. You can reach Cozumel easily by boat from Playa del Carmen for a half day of diving.

Nurse sharks are not your typical shark. They have a long, cylindrical body, a broad head, small eyes, and a pair of barbels on their snout. They have two dorsal fins of similar size, and a long tail fin that can be longer than half their body length. They can grow up to 14 feet long (4.2 meters), but they are usually around 5 to 8 feet (1.75m). They have a brownish-gray color that helps them blend in with the sandy bottom.

Nurse sharks are not very migratory, so they live and hunt in the same area consistently. So you will find them all year round in both Playa del Carmen and Cozumel. You are more likely to see them in Cozumel.

They are nocturnal predators that feed mainly on crustaceans, mollusks, fish, and sea snakes. They use their strong jaws and thousands of tiny teeth to crush their prey. They can also suck in water and food through their mouths like a vacuum cleaner.

During the day, nurse sharks are often found resting on the sandy bottom, hiding under crevasses or reef overhangs, or lying on top of each other in groups. So make sure to check out these places when diving to try and find them. They are usually very docile and tolerant of divers, as long as they are not disturbed or provoked. They can be curious and approach divers, but they will usually swim away if they feel threatened. They are not known to attack humans unless they are harassed or grabbed. Just remember to respect their space and follow the instructions of your dive guide.

You can find nurse sharks form the coast of Cozumel.

Whale Sharks

Swimming with whale sharks is one of the most thrilling and unforgettable experiences you can have.. These gentle giants are the largest fish in the world, measuring up to 40 feet long (12.1m) but can get bigger.

They are filter feeders, meaning they eat plankton and small fish by opening their huge mouths and sucking in water. They are harmless to humans and often curious and friendly.

Whale sharks migrate to the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea every year from June to September, following their food source. The largest aggregation of whale sharks in the world occurs near Isla Mujeres, a small island off the coast of Cancun. This is where you can join a whale shark tour from Playa del Carmen.

A whale shark tour from Playa del Carmen typically involves a 45-minute drive to Cancun, where you board a boat with a certified guide and a small group of other adventurers. The boat ride to the whale shark area can take an hour or two, depending on the weather and sea conditions.

Along the way, you might spot dolphins, turtles, manta rays, and other marine life. Once in the water with Whale Sharks you’ll see how the largest shark is also the most docile shark. Swimming with whale sharks is an incredible experience that will leave you in awe. It is also an opportunity to learn more about these endangered animals and how to conserve them. By joining a whale shark tour from Playa del Carmen, you will not only have an unforgettable adventure, but also contribute to the research and conservation efforts of local organizations that monitor and protect these amazing creatures.

Whale sharks are beautiful, gentle giants.

Scuba Dive with Sharks in the Caribbean with DivePoint Mexico

Diving and swimming with sharks in the waters of the Caribbean near Playa del Carmen is an experience that will leave you breathless and amazed.

It will challenge your fears and prejudices about these misunderstood creatures, and make you appreciate their role in the ocean ecosystem. It will also make you feel alive and grateful for being able to witness such a natural wonder.


DivePoint wants to thank Lotte for creating this article.
Lotte Twaalfhoven is a Divemaster, underwater filmmaker, and former aquarist who has worked and dived with sharks for over five years. She is passionate about teaching people about the importance of sharks and getting people to go shark diving. Lotte also comes back to dive with sharks with DivePoint Mexico every year. 

You can follow Lotte on Instagram, or check out her cool YouTube Channel!


We hope you liked this blog post on sharks in the Caribbean.

Have you ever seen a shark on a dive?

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