As you hone your dive skills, log more hours and expand your diving playground, it’s normal to wonder whether it’s possible to finally encounter the apex predator of the seas – the sharks.
Although the idea of diving with sharks is legitimately awesome, you couldn’t help but feel rather uneasy after faithfully keeping updated with Shark Week. Fortunately, you can take smaller steps and encounter the reef sharks of Bali.
What kinds of reef sharks can I find in Bali?
You can spot three species of reef sharks in Bali: the blacktip, the whitetip, and the grey reef shark. Each species of reef shark has their own unique personalities and behaviors, and we will offer a brief guide on the dos and don’ts when encountering them.
Gili Biaha Shark Cave – home of the whitetips
Gili Biaha is a small island about 25 minutes north of Padang Bai. The island itself is one of the five dive sites that we cover in Padang Bai.
The Shark Cave lies at about 12 meters, in the eastern section of the crescent-moon shaped island. You will find a healthy ecosystem of corals with many of the famous elementary-school-textbook sea life – sea turtles, lionfish, moray eels, tuna, barracudas, cuttlefish, octopuses, and lobsters (the latter few are the sharks’ favourite menu!).
Getting to the cave is no easy task. A medium to strong current will test your reef navigation, buoyancy and streamlined swimming skills. However, once you reach the shark cave, decorated with soft coral and gorgonians, you can see them tucked inside the cosy crevices, sleeping and relaxed.
These 1.6-meter-long reef sharks hunt at night. They don’t mind the presence of humans, and in some cases, they display curious and investigative behaviour towards divers. They are typically not aggressive unless roused with food – it’s not advisable to bring chum along with you just to attract their attention!
USAT Liberty Shipwreck / Kubu – the blacktip’s hunting ground
When the apex predator of the reef is present, you can bet that the surrounding ecosystem is healthy, and is vibrant with their preferred food – squid, octopus, cuttlefish, mantis shrimp, and surgeonfish.
The 75-year-old shipwreck hosts some of the most diverse coral life in Bali, and it’s no wonder that blacktips can be spotted here regularly. In particular, the mini-site called Kubu is an excellent vantage point for shark-watching.
The light current makes for a relaxing drift towards the Tulamben Drop Off (one of the sites that we cover as well!), and you’ll soon find some blacktips looking to find easy picks at the sea wall.
The blacktips are famous for the distinct markings on the dorsal and tail fins. These dwellers in the dark are timid. Although not a danger to humans as they avoid coming too close to the divers’ bubbles. They can potentially become aggressive in the presence of chum. We do not advise you to bring chum with you just to attract their attention!
Shark Point Tulamben – where grey reef sharks roam
The grey reef sharks are much more reclusive and are challenging to find. However, there have been many reports of their activities near Shark Point Tulamben, aptly named because you will find more whitetips and blacktips here than grey reef sharks.
The location of Shark Point is close to the Tulamben Drop Off, at a depth of 20 to 30 meters. The visibility is 30 meters on a gorgeous day between June and October.
A caution with regards to grey reef sharks:
They can become aggressive when followed. These 1.6-meter-long sharks do not like the presence of human beings and will show signs of aggression when they feel threatened.
They arch their back and dorsal fin to appear larger, and make exaggerated side-to-side movements. When this happens, back away slowly but do not turn your face away from the shark.
Diving with sharks can be a rewarding experience, and fortunately, Bali has a healthy ecosystem that supports even the apex predator of the reefs. Why not ask our team directly about reef sharks and more places to find them? Explore the depths with Blue Season Bali!