Are There Sharks in St Lucia?
Saint Lucia is a sovereign, volcanic island nation formerly of the West Indies. Currently it’s an independent state and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Formerly it was known as Lyonola, since this is what the indigenous Arawaks called it. Later, it was renamed as Hewanorra, by the native Caribs people. Since its control has so often been transmitted back and forth between the French and the British, it’s sometimes called the “Helen of West Indies,” alluding to the mythological Helen of Troy. It’s now a sovereign independent country. Here, we will address the question of, “are there sharks in St Lucia?”, but first, let’s take a deep dive into understanding more about St. Lucia.
As it’s near the equator, the climate of the region is towards the higher side of temperatures (about 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) during the day and about 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) at nighttime).
The region also has regular dry and wet seasons. Average rainfall ranges between 50 inches and 150 inches per year. So, it can be said that the area has a tropical rainforest climate, nothing too unbearable. There are varied terrains throughout the island, from volcanic rocks to highlands to a depression in the southern part.
There are lots of exciting events that take place on the island such as the La Rose and La Marguerite, which are festivals celebrating orders like the Freemasons. There is also a yearly music festival held in the country called the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival. These are only the most major in a whole host of festivals and events.
What’s more, St. Lucia has a record for the second highest Nobel Laureates to the population of any sovereign nation. The economist Sir William Arthur Lewis, hailing from St. Lucia, won the Nobel Prize for economics in 1979. Besides that, a poet from St. Lucia called Derek Walcott also received a Nobel prize in literature for his poetry in 1992. The culture of this distinguished nation has undertones of African, French, and English influence.
Of course, due to its tropical location, multiple islands, and beaches straight out of a movie, St. Lucia remains an extremely popular tourist destination as of today. Remarkably, it beats places like Las Vegas and Maldives as the most visited wedding destination in the world! Besides luxurious spas and resorts, other attractions in this tropical paradise include the Sulphur Springs, a drive-in volcano (wow!) located in Soufrière as well as the St. Lucia Botanical Gardens.
Already drawn in by the charm of this promising part of the world? Wishing for a cruise to the destination? You’re not the only one! However, it’s only natural for you to have some concerns regarding the place.
Besides the threat of crime, burglaries, and harassment (which are being controlled by police measures and private security teams, not to worry!) sharks are one of the most common fears among tourists. Or perhaps you’re a huge daredevil and wish to see one up close? Read on for all you need to know about sharks and the St. Lucia islands. No doubt, this information will help you prepare for your tropical cruise and put you at ease.
More than seven years ago, in 2013, panic struck when a brother and sister duo had to complete the brave feat of swimming around for 12 hours after their fishing boat sank. They pressed on in moon-soaked water hours after nightfall, and only then did they have the chance to rest on sand.
Once they finally reached home, they got the news that the captain and first mate of their former boat had suffered a fate similar to theirs; they had to swim around for over 23 hours before they were rescued.
Unfortunately, this incident took place on the north coast of St. Lucia and the articles reporting on it make one think that the waters are infested by sharks. In fact, the tourists recalled that they had been trying to fight off images of the film, “Open Water”, for the entire duration of their courageous swim. They claim to have even felt something moving by their feet, a supposed shark. These images are enough to make a potential tourist worry about encountering one of these underwater monsters on their Caribbean dive.
This is the kind of information that makes the queasy tourist cower and cancel the cruise, but don’t do that yet, we’ve got you. There’s more to the story than meets the eye, we promise. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the trip of a lifetime featuring a walk-in volcano, a sailing rally, a horse racing facility, and various nature reserves.
Are there sharks in St Lucia? Keep reading on, because we did the research to answer that question so you wouldn’t have to, dear traveler.
One thing we’d like to clarify before we begin unravelling our research is that St. Lucia is not the same destination as Playa Santa Lucia. Although easy to confuse and mix up, Playa Santa Lucia is a small and intimate resort region in the North of Cuba. Along with pink flamingos and mosquitoes, this sandy location is known for – wait for it- its sharks!
In fact, there are quite a few diving establishments like the Sharks Friends Dive Center that are prominent in the region. These allow tourists to dive and swim among bull sharks, delightful! The curious reader would be interested to know that bull sharks are one of the most dangerous sharks in the world with about 30% of bull shark bites being fatal to human beings. That’s kind of scary when you realize that about a hundred percent of all visitors to the region have reported sighting them. Yikes!
Anyhow, as much as we’d like to go on talking about the delights of swimming (and dying) with the sharks, this article does happen to be about St. Lucia and not Playa Santa Lucia, Cuba. Our (now probably lost, sorry!) point being that the two are often confused, and since once is famous for its sharks, it’s quite natural that the other would be linked to it too. But we’re here to dispel that confusion. From here on out we’ll be talking about St. Lucia in the West Indies only.
Silly confusions out of the way, we still have some bad news for you. Unfortunately, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park administration has issued warnings that visitors are advised to refrain from the water due to the presence of bull sharks and extremely powerful currents. They further divulged that there are no shark nets throughout the area and these bull sharks are an important part of the marine ecosystem and thus must be protected.
Furthermore, to avoid any untoward incidents, the wetland park has also employed 38 beach monitors and numerous lifeguards, all made recognizable because of their iSimangaliso attire. They carry whistles to alert beachgoers of any safety hazards.
At the time of this writing, visitors are urged to contact the emergency line at 082 797 7944 if they have any shark related (or other) incidents to report. Each holiday season since 2017, security is increased at the beach and visitors are time and again reminded to adhere to all rules and regulations so that they remain safe and protected while enjoying their holiday and take care of the environment around them as well.
We’re still not convinced, though. The sharks that have been claimed to inhabit this area happen to be – you guessed it – bull sharks. Could it be that once more, our lovely St. Lucia is being mixed up with Santa Lucia? After further research into the matter and a little digging around, we discovered that iSimangaliso Wetland Park actually happens to be located in Cape Town, Africa. Since this is one of the first results obtained upon searching “sharks in St. Lucia,” we thought we’d clarify this too. As of now, the score remains the same: sharks 0 – 0 no sharks.
In another relatively recent article from about a year ago, it was revealed that two sharks were caught in Dennery. These were both tiger sharks. As a matter of fact, tiger sharks are one of the most dangerous shark species and are responsible for a huge chunk of fatal shark bites. What makes this story even more horrifying is that it was also alleged that one of the sharks contained what was thought to be human remains. St. Lucia’s Fishery department denied these claims, and the Information and Communications Officers actually clarified that one of the sharks had been pregnant, which accounts for what was inside it. This only makes things a little better off, though, knowing the injuries that these sharks are capable of inflicting.
In another article from around that time, it was divulged that a Zambezi shark was spotted on one of St. Lucia’s beaches. Since Zambezi is another name for bull sharks, this information is kind of alarming. Thankfully, the shark was not able to harm anyone since it was stuck in a sandbank. See the footage for yourself here: https://zululandobserver.co.za/205631/watch-zambezi-shark-seen-off-st-lucias-beaches/
Our research also took us to an article dating back to 2015. The article had a video of an interaction between a bull shark and a hippo in the St. Lucia estuary. It also went on to say that these sharks are a common sight on the estuaries because that is where female bull sharks come to give birth. Bull shark eggs? No thanks. We’d rather keep our distance. Here’s the video: https://zululandobserver.co.za/86901/watch-shark-vs-hippo-interaction-in-st-lucia-estuary/
A YouTube video from the distant past – 2009 – shows footage of a great white shark in the waters of St. Lucia. Like bull sharks, these species are amongst the hugest and also the most dangerous for human beings. Their bites are known to be fatal. However, since this footage is practically ancient, I wouldn’t sweat it! It seems that this isn’t a very common occurrence since a great white hasn’t been spotted again since.
Besides these websites, the good old folks over at tripadvisor.com also have a lot to say about sharks in St. Lucia. According to one user, there are some reef sharks present in the area. However, they’re generally harmless and sleep during the day, so it’s unlikely that you’d run into them, unless you happen to be deep diving in the dark. These sharks are not known to attack humans unprovoked and are generally not interested in their activity anyway.
Another user claimed that divers had reported seeing nurse sharks whilst down in the reef. These sharks move quite slowly and are docile for the most part. They aren’t known to attack humans unprovoked, and not a lot of people have seen them anyway.
Besides this handful of tourists, there is a unanimous “no” to the question of whether there are sharks in the St. Lucia waters. A lot of these tourists have been to the island numerous times and have gone for many dives, but haven’t once encountered a shark. Some suggest diving down to 85 feet during nighttime in order to have a slim chance of sighting one! Good luck with that.
As you move closer to the Atlantic side of the waters (as opposed to the Caribbean), your chances of seeing a shark do increase. It’s only here that you need to worry. Since most of the holiday attractions are at the Caribbean end, this shouldn’t be a problem.
If not shark seeing, what can you see whilst at St. Lucia? The answer is plenty! The rich ecosystem of the region offers all kinds of sights from ancient reefs to circles of rays. Corals, sponges, black coral trees, golden eels, turtles, seahorses, angelfish, these waters have it all! It has also been suggested that late night diving reveals some of the most magical marine life that’s known to man.
Notable diving and photography spots include Keyhole Pinnacle, consisting of four volcanic peaks teeming with life, the Lesleen M. Wreck, a marvel of an artificial reef 16 to 65 feet below surface and inhabited by frogfish and octopi, and Fairyland, a coral reef kept strikingly clean because of warm, breathtaking currents.
What’s more, you also have a lot to pick from in terms of resorts for diving. One popular option is Scuba St. Lucia, which also happens to be a National Geographic 5 star dive resort. The good news doesn’t even end there. Although these warm waters are open to divers all year long, the best time to visit them is perhaps in September when the St. Lucia Dive Association hosts its annual Dive Fest, which is a week long event that allows diving fanatics (and rookies, be prepared for competition though) to take part in exciting events like the lionfish derby or the various photo contests. With parties sprinkled all around, this is a great event for the diving community to enjoy (and show off!).
Still hell bent at wanting to encounter sharks? You little adventurous (and stubborn) thing. Fortunately for you, St. Lucia isn’t the only thrilling tourist site in the world. As mentioned before, you can also head over to Santa Lucia to have the time of your life diving with the bull sharks. The place specializes in that after all.
If the sound of those aggressive creatures gives you the frights, not to worry. Isla Mujeres in Mexico is the place for you. This region is known for the biggest congregation of whale sharks during the months between May and September. You don’t even have to worry about ending up in a shark tummy, these giants are vegetarian!
Craving bigger thrills? Gaansbai in South Africa allows you to cage dive with breathtaking great white sharks. Since these great white sharks have great white teeth, you might want to stay on the boat. This doesn’t take away too much from the fun since these hunters are known to occasionally break onto the surface for you to point and scream at.
Don’t want to restrict to only one species? Beqa Lagoon in Fiji boasts of eight different shark breeds. From here you can spot tigers and bulls, along with other big fish like eagle rays and other breathtaking fish. They even let you hand feed the bull sharks if you’re feeling adventurous (and in need of an all new, impressive, deluge of Instagram posts).
What’s the verdict then? While we do believe that it’s possible to encounter a shark on your tropical cruise to St. Lucia, it’s not very likely. The above reported sightings are isolated occurrences and it remains fact that St. Lucia isn’t really known for it’s shark population.
As long as you don’t dive too deep (read: over 85 feet) and stay clear of the Atlantic side, you’re virtually safe. Most sharks are also likely harmless (when unprovoked) species such as nurse sharks and reef sharks; as long as you don’t bother them (or swim around with bait), you’re all set. If you were hoping to see sharks anyway, don’t be disappointed, there’s all sorts of spots where you can chill with these deep sea monsters. We’ve even compiled a list for you. Are there sharks in St. Lucia? The short answer is no. Sharks known to fatally attack human beings are not common in the region. It’s still a good idea to be prepared for any emergencies and keep hospitals and first aid centers in sight, though. Vacation safely!