Guidelines for Great Hammerhead Diving in Bimini29th December 2014 | Jackie Hutchings
There has been a lot of controversy about the hammerhead diving in Bimini and the Bimini Tourism Board just released a set of rules and expectations.
Guidelines & Etiquette, as put forth by the Bimini Tourism Advisory Board (BTAB)
Attracting & Feeding the Sharks
- There shall be no direct hand-feeding of the sharks.
- There shall be no unnecessary touching or handling of the sharks.
- Only fish (fresh or frozen) shall be used to feed the sharks. No ‘human food’ or other non-related animal products.
- Visiting boats should bring their own bait, and not rely on harvesting from Bimini’s fisheries for bait.
- Bait should be presented down-current from divers.
- Bull Sharks (C. leucas) should NOT be fed at Bimini’s Great Hammerhead sites. Anyone wishing to dive with Bull Sharks can contact the Bimini Bull Run operation in Alice Town, or utilize a location outside of Bimini’s Great Hammerhead diving zone. (see photo above).
- Navigation & Anchoring Sites used should be in areas that do not damage or disturb nearby reefs, seagrass beds, or other sensitive marine habitats.
- All boats should make sure their anchors are set in sand.
- If necessary, divers should set anchors in place on the bottom to avoid dragging.
- When available, boats should use permanent moorings.
Related Etiquette & Protocol
- Visiting boats should contact the Bimini Tourism Advisory Board (BTAB) prior to their arrival and report the duration of their stay, number of divers, etc. Email [email protected]
- Visiting boats should coordinate via VHF radio to ensure each boat has plenty of space to operate safely and comfortably.
BTAB suggests a minimum distance of 0.5 miles between each boat when more than one boat is in the area.
- Visiting boats should be willing to report sightings and observations to the researchers at the Bimini Biological Field Station (SharkLab). Any divers seen interfering with research or tagging efforts should be reported to BTAB, or the Royal Bahamas Police in Bimini.
- “Diver Down” flags must be displayed at all times when divers are in the water.
Regulations & Restrictions
- All non-Bahamian vessels must comply with Bahamas Customs & Immigration regulations.
- All production crews must acquire & abide by the proper permits from the Bahamas Film Commission
- All vessels engaging in any fishing activities must comply with the Fisheries Regulations of the Bahamas
- All visiting researchers must acquire & abide by the proper research permit prior to their arrival.
- All divers and operators should be in possession of necessary certifications and permits.
- Hooking or catching any sharks, without proper permits and permissions, is prohibited by Bahamian law.
Additionally, Great Hammerheads are especially vulnerable to the stress of being caught, and this should never be attempted without extensive consideration.