Posts Tagged ‘hammerhead sharks’

Hammerhead Sharks

hammerSo you want to dive with Hammerhead Sharks?  This shark’s unusual name comes from the unusual shape of its head, an amazing piece of anatomy built to help it maneuver and maximize the fish’s ability to find its favorite meal: stingrays. The shark’s eye placement, on each end of its very wide head, allows it to scan more area more quickly than other sharks can.

Numerous types of hammerhead sharks can be found throughout the world.  The ten known species range from 3.0 to 20 ft long and weigh from 500 to 1000 pounds.  Hammerheads are pretty nomadic, however, so if you want to increase your chances of seeing one (or more!) on a dive, here are the places and times  to go:

  • Tahiti is well known for its shark viewing, notably the island of Rangiroa. From January to February large numbers of Hammerhead Sharks congregate, making this an even more exceptional dive area
  • Large numbers of Hammerhead Sharks can be seen at Layang Layang, Malaysia, with March and May being the best time for seeing schools of scalloped hammerhead sharks performing mating rituals
  • Head to the east side of the Maldive atolls from May until November when Hammerhead Sharks are common in the shallower waters
  • June through August a good time to see Oceanic Hammerheads in Fiji especially around Kadavu
  • Hammerhead Sharks most active in the Cocos and Malpelo Islands, as well as the Galapagos Islands, from July through October
  • Hammerhead Sharks are seen in the Canary Islands from October to November
  • November until March there are good sightings of Hammerhead and Zambezi Sharks in Southern Mozambique
  • From November to June there is a good chance of seeing Hammerhead, Zambezi, Bull, and Tiger Sharks at Protea Banks, South Africa
Yap Manta Ray

Yap Manta Ray

Nomadic in nature and notoriously bubble-shy, Manta Rays are undoubtedly one of the most appreciated underwater sightings once you finally find one. There are, however, a few places in the world that can almost guarantee a manta sighting on any given dive.

Yap, Micronesia – This tiny Pacific island just north of the equator houses a resident colony of manta rays, a rare living situation for the animals. Check out Yap Diver’s blog that highlights pics from “Manta Fest” including one dive trip accompanied by a pod of Orcas. As a bonus, visitors to the island also get a unique top side cultural experience that frequently includes grass skirts, loincloths, and the use of huge wheels of stone money for barter.

Kona, Hawaii – This manta experience is decidedly more manmade, but no less exciting. Dive operators and hotels light up the waters off the Kona Coast at night, attracting swarms of plankton that, in turn, attract the manta rays. Divers and snorkelers alike hover in the water column, watching the giants glide and swoop as they feed. Check out Kona Honu Diver’s page for a cool video of what the dive actually looks like.

Atlanta, Georgia – On this trip you have a 100% chance of seeing not one manta, but two. If you buy tickets to the aquarium, that is. Whether you agree with the idea of aquariums or not, you have to admit that this place really has it all when it comes to sea life. The two mantas swim in a six million gallon exhibit next to four whale sharks, a handful of hammerheads, and a ton of other fish. Rumor has it that one of the rays likes to do flips out of the water at the surface, a rare treat for people on the Behind the Scenes tours.

high res mantaWhen I heard that Hurricane Jimena, currently a category 4 storm and the tenth storm of the season in the Pacific, was barreling down on Baja California, I thought I hope it won’t hurt the scuba diving there. Then I realized I had no clue what kind of diving was there. After a little research I now hope more than ever that Jimena decides she wants an authentic tamale and veers significantly to the right into a low-population area.

The Baja peninsula actually has an amazing array of diving opportunities, from the rocky kelp forests in the north on the Pacific coast near San Diego to the only live coral reef on the western side of North America, Cabo Pulmo, on the Sea of Cortez between La Paz and Cabo San Lucas. The indigenous sea life is insane, including great white sharks, hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks, whale sharks, manta rays, dolphins, marlin, Humboldt squid, octopus, and whales. In some spots divers encounter sea lions frequently eager to play or gnaw the end of your fin.

I can’t wait to book my next trip: the Baja Peninsula has moved up to #1 on my “to dive” list. I’ll just wait until Jimena checks out of the hotel.