For many cruisers sailing to the Bahamas, swimming with sharks in the tropical waters is at the top of their bucket list. But there is always a risk involved when interacting with wild animals.
One family learned this the hard way after their young son was bitten by a shark during a popular shark tank expedition in the Bahamas. The excursion has been temporarily closed in the wake of the attack.
Shore Excursion Closes After Shark Attack
The chances of being attacked and killed by a shark are low, only about one in 4 million. There’s never been a guest-related shark incident at Blue Adventures by Stuart Cove since its opening in 2006 – that is, until Monday, January 15, 2024.
The up-close and personal shark experiences, run out of the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas, has been temporarily shut down pending an investigation after a 10-year-old boy was bitten during his swim in the shark tank.
It’s unclear if his family was in the water with him, but the boy was accompanied by a dive instructor and dive guide when the incident occurred.
According to a statement from the Royal Bahamas’s Police Force, the boy was bitten on his right leg shortly before 4 p.m. local time. “He was transported to the hospital for medical attention and is currently in stable condition. Investigations are ongoing into this incident.”
The unidentified boy was transported back to his home state, Maryland, on Wednesday, January 17, 2024, where he will receive further treatment. He is expected to make a full recovery.
Cruisers hoping to swim with sharks on an upcoming visit to Paradise Island, which is only a couple miles from the popular port of Nassau, may need to pick a new shore excursion, as the shark diving expedition has been temporarily closed following the attack.
Blue Adventures by Stuart Cove, which operates the experience, released a statement on January 17 saying they have opened an investigation into the incident and are “fully cooperating” with local authorities. The excursion will not reopen until the findings have been reviewed.
“Incidents like this involving interactions with marine life, even with the species of sharks included in this experience, are rare and never acceptable,” said the company.
Shark Diving In the Bahamas
Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas offers a variety of port adventures, including snorkeling, scuba diving, snuba, boat charters, and of course, shark diving. The company has partnered with Atlantis Paradise Island since the early 2000s to offer watersports and animal encounters at the Bahamas resort.
The shark tank expedition the victim participated in is part of the Mayan temple area of Paradise Island’s Aquaventure Zone. During the experience, participants wore special helmets to breathe underwater while they got up close and personal with nurse and reef sharks.
The shark excursion has since been removed from the resort website, but many other shark-related shore excursions can still be booked on popular websites like TripAdvisor, through companies like Unexso, Neal Watson’s Bimini Scuba Center, and Aquaquest escapes.
Carnival Cruise Line also offers its own Shark Encounter & Snorkel Excursion at Blue Lagoon Island, just three miles from Nassau, starting at $119.99 (USD) for kids and $129.99 for adults.
Ultimately, it’s up to each cruiser to determine if shark diving is right for them or if another shore excursion would suit them better. While shark attacks are rare, this boy was not the first shark bite victim in the Bahamas.
In September of 2022, a 58-year-old woman visiting Nassau as part of a Royal Caribbean Cruise died after she was attacked by a bull shark during a snorkeling excursion.
More recently, a 44-year-old woman from Boston, named Lauren Erickson Van Wart, was killed in a shark attack while paddleboarding in the Bahamas in December of 2023. Wart was less than one mile from shore when the shark bit, fatally wounding her.