A diver swims alongside a sand tiger shark near the Caribsea wreck, a freighter that was sunk by Germany in World War II, off the coast of North Carolina.
More than 400 species of sharks fill our planet’s waters, and many of them are gentler than the violent predators we see dramatized in movies and television shows. There are several places to safely see sharks in the wild, and some may surprise you.
For example, off the coast of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, you’ll find a swath of sea where shipwrecks like the Atlas and Spar are teeming with sand tiger sharks, especially during the summer months.
If you’re searching for warm waters and paradise-like islands, places like the Bahamas and Isla Mujeres are also great places to dive or snorkel with various shark species, and easily accessible from the U.S. But to beat the crowds and enjoy a more solitary experience, North Carolina is the best option, and the Outer Banks offer a host of other activities while you’re there.
For experienced divers, these 100-foot deep sites can be a great place for your first encounter with sharks, and the intrigue of a shipwreck adds an aura of excitement to the experience. Additionally, these dives do not use baiting or other controversial methods to attract sharks. Try Olympus Dive Center for your first shark dive.
Swimming with sharks, as with any wildlife, always requires a degree of caution and respect for the animal. The most important rule is to make sure you do not touch or harass the sharks.
“I don’t want to portray them as you see in movies, but you are dealing with wild animals,” says shark photographer George Probst. “They are not your friend, but they are not your enemy.”
- Nat Geo Expeditions