Best Places To See Sharks
 

 

whiteshark White Shark basking shark Basking Shark whale shark Whale Shark c

Various

Sharks

 

whale shark

Photo of a diver swimming with a whale shark in the Maldives by Felix Esteban.

SHARKS TODAY: current situation and conflicts

Humans kill about 73 million sharks a year while sharks kill about five people a year. Yet, we have a sensational fear of these huge fish.

 

Sharks are still killed for their fins --and sometimes only their fins in a barbaric practice calling finning in which fisherman slick off the shark's fins and throw them back to the ocean to bleed to death. The fins are eaten in shark fin soup in Asia. The practice was banned in U.S. waters, but continues worldwide.

 

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, one-third of ocean sharks and rays are threatened. Great hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran) and scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) are globally threatened. Because they take so long to reproduce, sharks are especially vulnerable to over-fishing.

VIEWING TIPS

South Africa and Australia are the best-known shark watching spots in the world, but sharks can be seen off every continent. Often whale watching boats--particularly around Cape Cod--will also see sharks.

 

If you're not an adventurous scuba diver, then the Basking Shark and Whale Shark are your friends. Both are enormous, docile, spottable from a boat and have many places to see them worldwide.

 

BEST PLACES TO SEE SHARKS

Click on the region to see its wildlife-watching spots
U.S. Midwest Northeast Plains Down South Out West  
States Alaska CA Hawaii FL TX  
International Canada Latin America Europe Africa Asia Australia

 

AFRICA * ASIA * AUSTRALIA * EUROPE * SOUTH AMERICA

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northeast Northeast - See other animals in the Northeast
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Boston Basking Shark Watching
Boats leave from downtown Boston to see whales in the Stellwagen Banks 30 miles off shore, but they sometimes also see basking sharks there, too. According to the New England Aquarium, basking sharks (which don't have teeth, but filter food with plates) show up in good numbers by late June. These sharks are known as gentle giants.
New England Aquarium
early April-late October, $40, 3-4 hours, usually 2x/day, New England Aquarium Pier
Massachusetts Bay Lines
May-October 1-3 4-hour, $35 cruises, 60 Rowes Wharf (just a few buildings south of the aquarium)
617-542-8000
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Nantucket

Few people realize that right off Cape Cod there's a big population of sharks all summer. Nantucket Shark Dives, run by Bryce Rohrer, a veteran of South Africa shark cave dives, leads tours 10-40 miles off Nantucket. You'll probably see blues, maybe makos and there's always a chance of sunfish or whales. $800 for cage dives (up to four people), $1,000 for free dives (up to four divers) bryce.rohrer@gmail.com,  (203)-273-1748 

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Point Judith, Rhode Island

Captain Charlie Donilon and Snappa runs tours from Point Judith to see blue shark off Rhode Isand. If you're a certified scuba diver, you can get in the shark cage and see them in the water. Otherwise, you can either stay on the boat or ride on the "playpen," a kind of safety raft that lets you see sharks from the water level. June-September.
You'll probably see blue sharks; you make see the more aggressive Makos. Also in the area: dolphins, whales, Portuguese Man-of-War and in June basking sharks--the huge, safe herbivores.
Prices start at $220 per diver and $170 for each person that just stays on the boat.

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Montauk, Long Island, NY

Montauk's Sea Turtle Charters tours the sand sharks off Block Island, RI, and shipwrecks ($200/person).

south South - See other aninals Down South
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Outer Banks, NC, Sandtiger Sharks Diving Hatteras
Shipwrecks off the outer banks--known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic--attract lots of little fish, which in turn attract docile, open-mouthed sandtiger sharks. A couple companies off the islands offer diving tours of wrecks, according to Elsamodiver.
Outer Banks Diving 57540 NC Highway 12, Hatteras, NC (252) 986-1056
Olympus Dive Center 713 Shepard St., Morehead City, NC $125 (2009)
Florida - See other animals in Florida
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Shark Tooth Capital of the World: Venice, FL
Venice, FL, boasts that it is the SHARK TOOTH CAPITAL OF THE WORLD. Thousands of prehistoric shark teeth wash up on its shores and sandbars because there is no barrier island. Since 1992, they've held an annual SHARK TOOTH FESTIVAL in the spring.
You probably won't see any sharks; these teeth are from thousands or millions of years ago.
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Palm Beach Shark and Turtle Dives
The reefs off Palm Beach attract hammerhead, reef, nurse, lemon and spinner sharks. You may also see rays and loggerhead, green sea, hawksbill and leatherback turtles.
Florida doesn't allow chumming.
Jim Abernathy's Scuba Adventure goes to nearby shallow and deep reefs. You need to know how to dive, but they offer courses.
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Dry Tortugas National Park, Key West, Florida

Dry Tortugas is one of the very few breeding grounds known for nurse sharks. But, it's also one of the most remote and obscure National Parks.  Dry Tortugas is 70 miles from Key West. You need to take a charter or ferry and only approved companies can do wildlife tours.
Biologists have been studying the mating ground for 30 years. Some believe the tours interfere with the sharks' mating.
The park also has endangered sea turtles.

out west The West - See other animals out West
CA California -- See other animals in California

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San Francisco - Sharks Farallons Islands
You can see white sharks in the Farallons off  San Francisco either as part of a whale tour or you can get in the water with them on a diving tour. It's one of the best shark-watching sites in the Gulf of the Farallons National Marine Sanctuary. You'll pass lighthouses, and possibly see migrating gray whales, puffins, sharks who come to eat seals and sea lions.
Gulf of the Farallones Natural History Tour
10 Marina Blvd., San Francisco, 415.331.6267
Incredible Adventures has one and two day trips.
Dive Discovery has trips that don't require a diving license. They have a "hookah" breathing system. $875 to get in the cage, $375 to stay on the boat (2009).
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Elkhorn Slough, CA, Tiger Sharks
Tiger, leopard and smooth-hound sharks can be found at the Elkhorns Slough, a wetland near Monterey Bay. In the spring and summer you can sometimes see them from the boardwalk. Or you can try a kayak in the area best known for otters. The Slough also has harbor seals, buffleheads, herons, egrets and cormorants.
1700 Elkhorn Rd., Watsonville, CA 95076 831-728-2822 Email

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CHANNEL ISLAND, CA, BLUE SHARKS & MAKOS

Blue sharks, makos and sea lions live off Santa Barbara Island, which is part of the Channel Islands National Park. Occassionally you may see a great white or angel shark, too. Visitors see lots of dolphins--mostly common and Risso’s dolphins, but sometimes white-sided or bottlenose dolphin. Gray whales migrate past the islands. At Point Bennett, on westSan Miguel Island, hundreds of thousands of northern elephant seals breed.
Here are some tips on how to get to the islands if you're not on a dive.
Some tours require scuba experience; others you don't even need to know how to swim.
Psalty Adventures offers diving tours to see the sharks and sea lions.
Aquatica Charters has a range of tours that leave from Long Beach.
Truth Aquatics offers kayak and diving tours.

Hawaii Hawaii --- See other animals in Hawaii
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OAHU, HAWAII, SHARK DIVES

You take a boat (3 miles) north of Oahu, then get in huge metal cage to meet any of the nine Hawaiin sharks--though Galapagos and Sandbar sharks are the most common. You may also see Hawaiian Green Sea turtles and (in the winter) humpback whales.
The tours are somewhat controversial: some worry they will attract sharks and teach them to associate humans with food

Hawaii Shark Encounters, 66-800 Haleiwa Rd, Haleiwa, HI (808) 351-9373

North Shore Shark Adventures, $96 (2009), $60 for kids 3-13, bring your own snorkel
HaleiwaTown, small boat harbor, 808-228-5900

Canada Canada -- See other animals in Canada
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Hornby Island Sixgill Sharks

According to Elasmodiver, Hornby Island is one of the best places in the world to see Sixgill sharks. Not that there's a huge population here; it's just that everywhere else they live is much deeper and inaccessible.
Hornby Island Diving 10795 Central Rd., Hornby Island, BC  (250) 335-2807

Latin America Latin America -- See other animals in Latin America
mexico
Mexico
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Whale Sharks outside Cancun, Mexico

From June to September a large number of whale sharks, the biggest shark in the world, congregate off Isla Mujeres and Isla Holbox, which are near Cancun.
Many boats have tours and all must follow strict rules.
Isla Whale Sharks offers $125 tours from
Playa Norte (North Beach)
they say they see sharks 99% of the time and that they usually see 20-50 of the huge fish.
Atlantis offers $125 reef tours in a submarine
Isla Holbox Shark Whale Cruise offers a snorkeling tirp.
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White Shark Dives off Guadalupe Island
Tours leave from San Diego and Ensenada, Mexico to the area near Guadalupe Island, Baja, California, to swim with great white sharks.
Shark Diver has 5-day packages from $2500-$3200. 415-233-4951
San Diego Shark Diving only goes with certified divers. About $2,500 (2009). They also offer shark tours in many hotspots around the world.(619) 299-8560

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whale shark

SEA of Cortez Hammerhead Sharks Schools

Hammerhead sharks can be found all over the Sea of Cortez, off Baja California, according to Elasmo-Research. Club Cantamar hosts diving, kayaking and boating expeditions to see hammerheads and whale sharks. They also host the Shark Research Institute's field station.
Juveniles are found close to shore and adults congregate during the day in undersea hills "seamounts" or "goyots".

Club Cantamar, Pichilingue Bay, Next to Ferry Terminal

brazil Brazil
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Fernando de Noronha,

The Island of Fernando de Noronha 200 miles off Brazil is part of a national park and home to at least 8 species of shark, many dolphins and sea turtles. You can see them in boat or by diving.

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Tiger Sharks, Tiger Beach, Bahamas
Off Freeport, the Bahamas, a shallow stretch of sand has become a popular feeding ground for tiger sharks. Not that that's the only shark that comes: lemon sharks, hammerheads and reef sharks. Tours leave from Florida or the Bahamas.
According to Shark Expedition, the area has several wrecks in just 5-10 feet of water and you may still see old cannonballs. Some areas are shallow enough for snorkelers, but it's a favorite spot for divers. Loggerhead turtles sleep here.
Shark Expedition Lake Park, FL (888) 277-8181 · (561) 848-5375
They also offer snorkeling with Atlantic spotted dolphins.
Shark Diver has week-long trips. (415)233-4951
Jim Abernathy's Scuba Adventures has trips off Palm Beach and the Bahamas.
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UTILA, Honduras, Whale Sharks

Giant whale sharks show up on Utila from February to April.
Responsible Travel recommends a weeklong $850-$1500 trip to help study these plankton eating sharks that grow up to 30 feet. The price is about the same for divers and non-divers.

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Cocos Island--Schooling Hammerhead Sharks

Schools of hammerhead sharks gather near Costa Rica's Cocos Island, a national park. The island, which also has red-footed boobies, is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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TURKs & CAICOS -- NURSE SHARK BREEDING GROUND

Nurse sharks come by the hundreds to French Cay in late summer to mate, so many you can see them in the shallows, says Scuba Safari. Along with the Florida Keys, it's one of only a handful of shark mating sites in the world.
Even if you don't make the event, there are nurse and reef sharks yearround.
Middle Caicos has plenty of sites where sharks are drawn by lobsters or discarded conch. The Miami Herald reported on night diving shark trips, in which sharks are obvious because their eyes glow green in light instead of the usual red. You don't have to go on a rough adventure to see them; even Club Med has diving tours.

Europe Europe - See other animals in Europe
UK
UNITED KINGDOM
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ISLE OF MAN BASKING SHARKS

The west coast of Britain and the Isle of Man is a good place to see basking sharks from May to August, says Wanderlust Magazine.
The Manx Basking Shark Watch keeps an excellent track of where people see these giants, usually from the land.
Peel Castle, Mona St, Peel; Castletown Bay and Point Erin Bay have been succesful viewing spots.

If you want to go out in a boat Manx Basking Shark Watch lists
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BASKING SHARKS PENZANCE TO SCOTLAND

Basking sharks--the giant 30-foot fish known for eating plankton with a gaping mouth--are becoming almost as popular as whales to watch, says the Telegraph. They've shown up among swimmers on beaches on Britain's west coast.

From Penzance you can also take a 2-hour boat tour from Elemental Tours, Wildlife Extra recommends. You might also get to see dolphins, orcas, porpoises, minke, fin or pilot whales, grey seals or sunfish.

 

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CARDIGAN BAY, WALES, BASKING SHARKS

Cardigan Bay, off Wales, is one of the great basking shark locations in the UK, Wanderlust Magazine says. The bay also has puffins, seals, porpoises, dolphins and sometimes leatherback turtle.
Cardigan Bay tours takes off from Pwllheli Marina, Gwynedd LL53, UK
 

Africa Africa -- See other wildlife in Africa
southafrica
SOUTH AFRICA
great white shark
Flying White Sharks, False Bay, South Africa
Great white sharks off South Africa are known to leap out of the water to catch seals. The hotspot of this rare breeching habit is False Bay, about 20 miles south of Cape Town. The season is April-September.

There are a variety of tours to watch the sharks, which tend to jump in the morning and late afternoon, from a boat or by diving. Some boats drag a seal decoy to attract the sharks.

African Shark Dives has both boat and diving tours. The all-day boat tour to seal island is about $200 (2009). Oddly, the cage dive, which goes to Geyser and Dyer Islands, is about $140.

White Shark Projects
offers 1-3 day cage dives off a catamaran.
great white shark

Shark Alley Great Whites

Shark Alley, near Cape Town, has the highest concentration of great white sharks in the world.
Shark Alley is the water between Geyser Rock and Dyer Island, which is a bird sanctuary and seal colony. Many boats come out of Gansbaai.
According to Shark Booking, you don't have to get in the cage to see the sharks. And even if you do get in the cage, you may not use an air tank or snorkel.

Shark Booking lists many companies.

whale shark

Tofo, Mozambique

You can dive with whale sharks and dolphins off the coast of Mozambique. The Manta Ray & Whale Shark Research Centre needs volunteers for weeks or months. Since fishing is one of the country's few industries, many sharks are killed for their fins. The Centre hopes an eco-tourism industry develops as an alternative--as long as its one that doens't burden the whale sharks, manta rays and dolphins that need the local reefs.
Responsible Travel recommends whale and dolphin conservation volunteer holidays.
The centre is based at the Casa Barry Lodge
Tofo, Mozambique +27 31 767 0111

Asia Asia -- See more Wildlife in Asia
whale shark

Richelieu Rock, THAILAND

Richelieu Rock in the Surin Islands off Thailand is supposed to be a diver's paradise, with whale sharks in spring and manta rays.
Sunrise divers lists companies with various price ranges.

whale shark

Maldives

The Maldives just declared three areas of the southern atoll protected for Whale Sharks: the coral reefs and waters in and around Baa atoll Hanifaru and An'gafaru, and South Ari atoll Maamigili. In general whale sharks are seen year round on the outer edges of South Ari Atoll (also called Alif or Alufu Atoll). The Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme  is studying the local whale sharks and promoting their safety--against the backdrop of their being caught for Asian fish markets. The program takes volunteers regularly.richard@whalesharkresearch.co.uk

whale shark

Malaysia

Malaysia is one of the world's whale shark hot spots, according to the Whale Shark Project. Dive the World puts the gentle giant fish on Lankayan Island, off Sabah, and recommends the Lankayan Island Dive Resort. The area also has mimic octopus, leopard sharks, sea turtles and cuttlefish.

Oz Australia -- See more Wildlife in Australia
great white shark

Adelaide

Off Adelaide on Australia's south coast, particularly near Port Lincoln, you have the chance to swim with or see great white sharks, dolphins, sea lions and even tuna.
Rodney Fox invented the shark cage and is a celebrity in the shark diving world.
Rodney Fox Shark Museum, Moseley Square, Glenelg SA (08) 8376 3373
FreemanX offers cruises to spot or swim with dolphins as well as cage dive with sharks. Theyalso have an unusual tour that lets you swim with tuna at a tuna farm. $45-$4000

whale shark

Exmouth, Western Australia

Peaceful, giant whale sharks visit the Ningaloo Reef from April to July. If you can swim, you can snorkel with them. If you can scuba dive, there are a bunch of companies to take you out.
Three Islands Marine Charter Murat Road, Exmouth Western Australia (08) 9949 1994

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NSW

Wobbegongs and nurse sharks visit the east coast of Australia. You can dive with boats out of Southwest Rocks or from one place near Sydney.
Fish Rock Dive Centre is recommended by ElasmoDiver.
134 Gregory St., South West Rocks NSW (02) 6566 6614
ElasmorDiver also recommends the South West Rocks Dive Center
Near Sydney at Magic Point, Abyss Scuba has dives to see nurse sharks and seals.

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New Zealand

Gisborne, New Zealand, has a few different kinds of tours to go out and see marine life.
Surfit  doesn't require a scuba license for you to go down in a cage and see mako and blue sharks--and also sometimes  bronze whaler and great white sharks.
64 6 867 2970
DiveTatapouri offers experiences boat, shallow water, snorkeling and diving experiences, some with Maori seafarers in the marine reserve Te Tapuwae o Rongokako. You may see sharks, dolphins, rare blue penguins or get a chance to feed stingrays.
(0064) NZ (06) 868 5153

 

 

Got a great shark-watching spot? Please email us.

 

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GEERG - Greenland Shark and Elasmobranch Education and Research Group
ReefQuest
Whale Shark Project
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Elasmor Diver Articles on Threats to Sharks
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Study Shows Shark Diving Tours Don't Disturb Sharks
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SHARK NEWS

Go see sharks jump and spin off Palm Beach
Spinner sharks launch themselves out of the water while feeding on schools of small fish. See them jump and spin among surfers.
 
Cape Cod loves its seals--and now sharks, too
Cape Cod revels in its shark attack. You'll see all kinds of shark souvenirs and you can try to see one on a boat tour to see seals (what the sharks are after).
 
Manta rays get some protection from fishermen hunting their gills
By calling manta rays a vulnerable species, scientists hope to stop or at least track the market in its gills. Used in Chinese medicine, the ray population is down 30% in 10 years.
 
Did Hamptons beaches close for basking sharks' scary name?
Suffolk County closed Long Island beaches because basking sharks were sighted. They're big tourist draws in the UK--like manatees but with a scary name.
 
Yale report: not enough data to believe Japan's radioactive water dump is safe
Japan isn't releasing enough information on radioactive compounds and levels to know if sea life is safe. Past nuclear dumps have lead to mass die-offs.
 
BLM dumps Pickens' horse sanctuary; Coyote breaches Long Island; Wales gets Whales
BLM kills the idea of the NV Pickens sanctuary late on Friday without much explanation. Long Island may no longer be the last place in US without coyotes; one spotted in Queens. Wales hopes fin whale sightings mean whale watching. Georgia hunter gets away with online remote shotguns to kill feral hogs.
 
Freakiest Shark Exhibit Ever At Santa Monica Aquarium
Santa Monica Aquarium showcases local fish, but it's not boring. They have a freaky exhibit of live shark embryos in egg casings. Bonus: eel, starfish & urchin
 
 
 
 
Shark cage diving operations now ope on Nantucket, Rhode Island and Montauk
Shark watchers looking in the wrong spot, captain warns. See where he says to search.
Top chefs shun shark fin soup, but you can still find it on the menu everywhere. See how widespread it is.
60 Minutes claims that sharks are "becoming more danerous" and attacks are on the rise. What's wrong with their numbers? Read More
What's more dangerous than a shark? Pretty much anything.