On my last trip to the Rivera Maya in Mexico I was very fortunate to fall into a group of local scuba divers and explorers who introduced me to some pretty phenomenal diving that you won’t find in any guide books. Luis Leal of Acquacaves Dive Center invited me on a dive with bull sharks off the coast of Playa Del Carmen. “Bull sharks”? I thought to myself in a confusing combination of excitement and concern. “How many are there?” I proceeded to ask. “About 12″, Luis responded. He continued to tell me more about them in that this particular group of female bull sharks has been visiting a particular location just 100 meters off the coast of the northern side of Playa Del Carmen for the past three years. They spend several months here breeding. Multiple groups of divers visit them daily without any history of incident (that I’m aware of!).
So out we went, a group of eight divers in a tiny fishing boat. Being surrounded by divemasters and instructors I felt I was in the most secure situation one could possibly be in at a time like this. When we reached the site, I was shocked at how close 100 meters was from the beach, which was full of swimmers and sunbathers, all completely unaware that a dozen bull sharks were in the area. Down we went and bottomed out at about 85 feet. We over-weighted so that we could securely plant ourselves on the ocean floor kneeling and simply observed. They acknowledged our presence and began circling us. We stayed down for over forty minutes before slowly ascending to the surface. We saw sharks for every minute of this dive and the remora even followed us to our safety stop at fifteen feet.
You can expect to see the bull sharks in the colder months from November until February. I also captured a short video of the dive.
Photo credit: Marisa Marchitelli