Sharks in Punta Cana

by Kathy
(Alberta, Canada)

Hi, we are going to Gran Bahia Principe Bavaro resort, Punta Cana on Sunday Jan 24/2010. Are there sharks? I thought I had read somewhere that this area has a natural reef around it and that it prevented sharks from coming in.


Hello Kathy,

There is no real need to worry about the sharks. While waters in the Caribbean are home to several species of sharks; the vast majority of them do not present a real threat to the people visiting the refreshing waters of the area. Some of the shark species that can be found in the waters of Punta Cana are the nurse shark, the Caribbean sharpnose shark and the reef shark.

Among them the reef shark is the one likely to be responsible for the extremely rare attacks that have happened in the past. Reef sharks do not attack humans under normal circumstances. Some of the attacks have been provoked by people that used baits. Sharks don’t behave like in the movies just attacking and biting everything they see. Divers that like to fish with spears exposed themselves to a great danger when they kill a fish in the water as sharks have a very powerful sense of smell that can trace blood from miles away.

Most sharks try to avoid contact with humans as much as possible. One of the main benefits of the Punta Cana waters is the low surf they experience due to the large reef that is close to the coast. That creates great visibility in the water which helps sharks to distinguish between humans and fish very clearly unlike other areas of the world like the waters near Florida or California that have very rough surf that may lead to more frequent shark attacks.

Some measures you can take to further decrease the chance of a shark attack is to never wear shiny swimsuits or accessories while in the water as sharks can mistake you for a shimmering fish. Another thing you can do is to swim where many people are located as sharks do not like to be near big groups of people. There are several diving excursions in Punta Cana where you can safely watch sharks without any real need to panic. One last thing that needs to be mentioned; some sharks prefer to hunt during the night so to be on the safe side swim preferably with daylight. In any case the waters in Punta Cana are among the safest waters in the world.

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