FREEPORT, Bahamas -- In 1975, the familiar theme music from "Jaws"
was heard in movie theaters across the U.S. Many swimmers did not
venture far off their beach blankets that summer as a result.
Ironically, at about the same time, the vacation community of
Stella Maris on Long Island, Bahamas, introduced an activity that
has become one of the island chain's most popular offerings --
For many local operators on Grand Bahama Island, sharks aren't
scary. In fact, they are good for business. And despite two shark
attacks off Grand Bahama last summer, these companies continue to
promote shark diving plans to clients, offering agents commissions
of 10% or higher.
Neal Watson's Undersea Adventures, which operates five dive
franchises in the Bahamas, has three facilities that offer shark
diving. They are the Nassau Scuba Centre in Nassau, Xanadu Undersea
Adventures in Freeport and Walker's Cay Undersea Adventures in
The firm also has dive centers at Scuba Bimini Dive Center in
Bimini and Andros Undersea Adventures in Andros. Xanadu Undersea
Adventures offers shark diving Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at
1:30 p.m. A one-dive plan costs $72; a two-dive plan is $101.
In the last 27 years, The Underwater Explorers Society (Unexso),
operating out of Port Lucaya, has taken about 50,000 participants
to meet the toothy fish. Unexso offers shark dives to Shark
Junction, a site off Grand Bahama Island. Its Shark Dive program,
which runs seven days a week, costs $85 per person with a maximum
of 16 divers on each trip.
Grand Bahama Scuba offers at least one dive each day in known
shark territory. For instance, on the second dive of a two-dive
morning, divers are taken to a site where sharks are known to swim.
The two-dive trip costs $65; a separate dive in late afternoon is
priced at $35. For those afraid of the creatures, Grand Bahama
Scuba offers an introductory dive trip in which the company
guarantees a refund if the divers do see a shark.