Are there Sharks in the waters of Grenada?

While planning an upcoming vacation to Grenada I wanted to know if there are sharks in the waters of Grenada. More specifically, is there an out-of-control barrage of shark attacks? Even though in my gut I know the likelihood of being attacked by a shark is remote, regardless of the beach destination, I still want to know.  I think it’s a natural, somewhat gruesome curiosity. So, I dove into the world of sharks to find the answer. 

Yes, there are sharks around Grenada. In fact, there are sharks around any coastal area that is surrounded by saltwater. The most common species in the Grenada area is the nurse shark. Reef sharks have also been spotted but it’s rare.  Additional species known to be in the Caribbean include Tiger and Bull Sharks.

Ever since Jaws the movie came out in the 70s people have been fascinated by these human killing machines. And terrified!

Shark attacks happen but are extremely rare. Even though they’re rare, we still worry about them. At least I do.

So, to ease my mind about the possibility of running into a shark while traveling to Grenada, I decided to do some research with the hope of confirming that I have nothing to worry about. Let’s find out. 

If you’re wondering if Grenada is worth visiting, check out my article 20 Reasons Why Grenada is Totally Worth it.

What kind of sharks are around Grenada?

nurse sharks swimming in a group

Obviously all sharks in the ocean are free to swim wherever they want. However, each species of shark has its own preferred surroundings – also known as its “habitat”.  Sharks found in the Caribbean are those that prefer shallow and warm water combined with coral reefs galore to feed on.

Who better to ask which shark species call the Caribbean “home” than scuba divers? After all, they are literally swimming around their habitat, up close and personal. In fact, many scuba dive companies even offer tours designed to locate and swim with sharks. Yikes and no thanks! 

I spoke with Mirko from Aquanaughts (a scuba diving company in Grenada that provides classes, certifications, and tours) about the possibility of running into a shark on Grenada. 

According to Mirko “You may see a nurse shark while scuba diving [around Grenada] but unfortunately, sightings of reef sharks are rare”. “Unfortunately?” Speak for yourself. Yikes! 

Mirko further indicated these two species are about it for sharks in the Granada area.

According to Rushkult, a website for scuba diving enthusiasts, five shark species you are likely to encounter in the Caribbean (not specifically Grenada) include the Caribbean and Blacktip Reef Sharks, Tiger Sharks, Nurse Sharks, and Bull Sharks.

Data tells us the species responsible for the majority of shark attacks are the {Great} White Shark, Tiger Shark, and Bull Shark.  So…. 2 of the 3 biggest attackers could be found in the Caribbean. 

Have there been shark attacks around Grenada?

In my research, I discovered two separate shark attack tracking entities. They are:

  1. The ISAF (International Shark Attack Files) which is managed by the Smithsonian Institution and housed at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, FL. 
  2. The GSAF (Global Shark Attack File) which is managed by The Shark Institute in Princeton, NJ. 

The ISAF include attacks from the early 1500s to the present.

The GSAF include attacks as far back as the 1500s but also recorded some incidents as far back as 725 B.C.  One of the B.C. dated incidents was taken from “Aboriginal rock carving depicts man being attacked by a shark”. 

Both the ISAF and GSAF claim to be a curated repository of confirmed, unprovoked shark attack cases. There are some variations in their data, but at least gives us an idea as to whether shark attacks in Grenada are a problem or not. 

Grenada Shark Attack Data

Although ISAF and GSAF don’t agree on the number of shark attacks Grenada has experienced, my takeaway is that shark attacks are not a problem in Grenada.  That’s the answer I was hoping for 🙂

Where in the Caribbean are the most shark attacks?

The chart that follows lists shark attacks that occurred in the Caribbean. You will notice the data variations between ISAF and GSAF – but the ratios are not all that dissimilar. I.e. the most attacks in the Bahamas, then Cuba and lastly Puerto Rico.

IslandShark Attacks per ISAFShark Attacks per GSAF
Puerto Rico111
US Virgin Islands30
Dominican Republic34
Turks and Caicos Islands24
Cayman Islands21
Antigua and Barbuda10

Why do sharks attack?

Most shark attacks occur because the shark thought you were food because an appendage was dangling (hey now, I meant a finger or toe!) or your flashy jewelry looked like a fish. Scientists believe sharks don’t even like how people taste which is often why one bite is all it takes before the shark spits it out and moves on.

Shark attacks also occur because they are being provoked or harassed. Don’t believe me? Just search YouTube for “diver provokes shark” and you’ll see what I mean. 

Who do sharks attack?

Victims of shark attacks were either on top of the water, in the water, under the water or entering/exiting the water.

ISAF categories the activities as follows:

  • Surface recreationists: People who were on top of the water on a board or flotation device. Activities include surfing, water skiing, windsurfing, boogie boarding, rafting or floating on inflatables.
  • Swimmers and bathers: People immersed in the water possibly treading water, snorkeling in the shallow water or just wading around.
  • Divers:  People who are scuba diving or even hooka or free divers.
  • Entering or exiting the water:  People climbing out of the water such as onto a boat ladder or immediately after they’ve entered the water such as jumping in.

Recent data from ISAF shows the following breakdown of activities the shark attack victims were engaged in at the time of the attack.

Surface RecreationistsSwimmers and BathersDiversEntering/Exiting Water

If your goal is to avoid being attacked by a shark, you can start with avoiding the above activities. If you’re like me, it’s not an option. The beach is calling me every day of the week! Still, there are other precautions we can take to avoid becoming a victim of a shark attack.

How To Avoid A Shark Attack

If you’re not yet convinced that getting attacked by a shark in Grenada is highly unlikely and would like some tips to avoid being a shark attack victim, here goes: 

  • Stay in groups as sharks are more likely to attack a solitary person.
  • Avoid the water during dark or evening hours when sharks are most active and they can see you but you can’t see them.
  • Stay out of the water if you are bleeding, sharks have killer sniffers. This includes women who are menstruating.
  • Remove shiny jewelry before going in the water.  Light-reflecting off jewelry can resemble a fish’s scales (a tasty snack). This includes waterproof watches – especially electronic ones.
  • Avoid areas between sandbars between or near drop off points as sharks like to hang out here.
  • Avoid high contrast colored swimwear or clothing. Sharks see contrast extremely well so you will stick out like a sore thumb. 

Fact or Fiction?

We’ve all heard wives tales about shark attacks. Time to find out if they’re really true.

Fact or Fiction >> When you see a dolphin, there are no sharks in the area.

Fiction. It’s not true. Sharks and dolphins can be in the same area at the same time. After all, they both eat the same foods.

Fact or Fiction >> If I’m attacked by a shark, smacking it on the nose will allow me to get away.

Fact. It’s true, hitting the shark on the snout can startle the shark long enough for you to get away. However, this is temporary and of course dependent on how fast you can swim away. Your best bet is to claw at its eyes and gill openings (very sensitive areas on the shark’s body) and fight like hell to get away.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty happy with the results of my research. There is not a mass of people getting attacked by sharks in Grenada. So, I’ll continue with my plans to visit next year.

Even though the odds of getting attacked by a shark are pretty slim, I think it’s a good idea to take heed of the simple precautions like avoiding evening/night swims & high contrast swimsuits, removing jewelry before I go in the water, staying in groups and most importantly — don’t harass the sharks! (Duh).

Happy planning!

Curious about snakes in Grenada? Check out my article Are There Snakes in Grenada?

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