Virgin Islands Travel Forum

sharks st john

February 25, 2008 06:13PM

has anyone ever encountered any sharks while snorkling on st john or had any problems with baracudas? i know they are near sighted and not to wear shiny things but i still worry espeacially around trunk bay. thanks for any help.

12 days and counting!!!!!

February 25, 2008 06:44PM

12 Posts

I haven't seen any sharks in St. John but encountered a huge baraccuda while snorkeling off of watermelon cay.

February 25, 2008 07:15PM

71 Posts

Last September I was in the mangroves over on the east end and ran into 2 Blacktip reef sharks. They circled me a few times and did not show any sign of leaving, so I did. I wish I had a picture of me hiking out of the mangrove swamp, I looked stupid. Then I found the road and burned my feet getting back to the jeep. Good times. happy

I have since learned that they would most likely have been harmless, but it was quite disconcerting at the time. I have seen a nurse shark in Francis bay, but they even look harmless.


February 25, 2008 10:22PM

Unlike Florida , the shark attack capitol of the US, the Virgin Islands have reported only two sharks attacks in the past 40 years. Both Florida and Hawaii have had several fatal attacks a year recently. The USVI none.

You will rarely see sharks in the VI, and historically you should have no fear of them.

Barracuda are capable of random attacks, but I can't remember a serious bite around here in years. I remember a large (maybe 6 foot) barracuda that maybe still swims around Cane Bay on St Croix, but I was told he is quite use to people in the water and never bothers anyone.

February 25, 2008 10:38PM

113 Posts

I would be thrilled to see a shark while snorkeling in the USVI -- as long as it wasn't a hammerhead or mako. There are many creatures on the reef more likely to cause you pain and suffering than sharks. wink

February 26, 2008 07:25AM

765 Posts

I have seen sharks in the VI. There use to be a nurse shark, which are harmless, that hung out on the east side of Honeymoon. Black Tips can be seen. I have never heard of anyone having problems. Honestly the fastest your heart will get going is when you are slowly snorkeling along and a Tarpon goes by you at what seems like 50 mph... Because you are really not sure what it was and it was big.

Barracudas are much more unpredictable, however, when we lived in PR the locals use to say that they were not aggressive like in Keys because of water temp. I do not know if that is true or not. I am not a real big fan of feeding the fish with bread and having all the fish gather around you. It makes you enter and be part of the food chain. Those eating the bread are a food source for the Barracudas.

I fully agree with Blaze that there are much more things out there than sharks that can cause pain. The most dangerous thing to a snorkeler is over confidence.

Keep the shiny and sparkly jewelry off (aka fishing lures) and enjoy the sea - remember just like the islands - you are the visitor

Have a happy....

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/26/2008 07:25AM by TomB.

February 26, 2008 08:15AM

385 Posts

We were just there last week and while snorkeling we saw nurse sharks which could of cared less that we were in the water. We saw them at Jumbie. While hanging out at Cinnamon and Trunk we saw baracuda many times and they ranged in size from about 6 inches to maybe 2-2 1/2 feet. My husband actually had a baracuda follow him while snorkeling but neither one seemed effected by the other. Enjoy your trip

February 26, 2008 09:15AM

1,027 Posts

Nurse sharks are common - I have seen them at Honeymoon, Maho, Francis - also there is a very large baracuda that swims between Francis and Maho and he is approx 5' to 6' but in the 3 years that I have swam Maho (as a workout) I have only seen him once. Last week he was swimming approx 8' off the beach.


February 28, 2008 10:59PM

We swam with the giant baracuda that lives in francis...he was very close to shore and you could see him very well standing onshore...he swam up and down the shoreline...not a care in the world about us humans. I also spent my entire time in the islands sporting my hook bracelet and a tiffany charm bracelet, completly not even thinking about how that might look underwater (thank god for small miracles) We also ran into a nurse shark in Hurricane hole...she could have cared less that we were around her.

February 29, 2008 12:38AM

85 Posts

Pia of course I missed him! Just came home last week. sad It is so cold here. I miss STJ already. Just 352 days to go till were back. This every year thing isn't cutting it. It needs to be twice a year. I would love to swim Maho weekly for a workout. Maho is so great for safe snorkeling I took my 5 year old out with me and we went back and forth between big and little maho and some of francis. However we encountered many many things that he will never forget!! We saw a baby lemon shark. Pretty cool. We saw sea turtles, huge starfish, abundance of other fish, octopus, sting rays, stalking barracuda's and a large enough nurse shark. This was all within an hour. I guess the sea knew my son was anxious to see what it had to offer. It was his first time snorkeling in the ocean. He was a little pro and the sharks scared me more than him. Amazing and remarkable for myself but imagine seeing all that in a 5 year olds eyes. No wonder he wants to go back to STJ over Disney! I am so proud at such a young age he can be exposed to pristine beauty and truly appreciate it! It is a beautiful thing to see these things folks. Just respect what is in there with you!

February 29, 2008 09:09AM

1,027 Posts

My "goal" is to see an octopus but never can find one - even with all of my Maho swims - I know he is there somewhere but never for me sad Where exactly at Maho did you see him................I'll go look right now happy


March 01, 2008 03:19AM

85 Posts

He was right about at the tip of the rock between Big and Little Maho. About 5 feet out from the Rock on the sea floor. He is sneaky though. I saw what looked like a pile of shells and then a swoosh and there he was. It was about 4pm too. Maybe he like the afternoon time better happy I was so impressed with what we saw at Maho this year. It was better than cinnamon, and trunk! Good luck, let me know if you see him. I saw the Nurse shark twice on the bottom in that same area. Is that a common place for her?happy

March 01, 2008 07:46AM

1,027 Posts

Yes that is where she hangs out - usually asleep happy
I'll let you know if I see your octopus happy


March 01, 2008 08:47AM

15 Posts

After more than 15 yrs. in the charter business here, and countless hours spent snorkelling all over the place, I was treated to one, ONE, little reef shark of Buck Isl., St. Croix and a couple of sleepy nurse sharks here and there. Oh, ya, they're there, but normally, we aren't on their menu. Like so many others have said, there are passively hurtful things i.e. backing into a spiny sea urchin (Ouch!), brushing against the yellow fire coral etc. but please note: These incidents were caused by being too close to the corals in general...please, please don't get that close, especially if there is surge and you aren't accustomed to what you're doing. The harm is not so much to you, but to the fragile corals and all that live around them. Enjoy, but keep track of your body!

July 12, 2012 10:06AM

1 Posts

We are vacationing in St John At the moment and have gone snorkeling every day, different bay every time. And everyday one of us has gotten a glimpse of a shark. Only a glimpse because they were pretty anxious to avoid us. They were not large and were much more afraid of us than we were of them. In fact, although I have been afraid of sharks all my life, I found myself heading in the direction they took off in, hoping to get w glimpse. Same with my daughter.

We saw one octopus. The trick is to look for piles or clean shells. There is usually an octopus hiding under a rock nearby.

Barracudas are pretty curious about people and you may suddenly find one or more swimming next to your head, just out of sight, which can be disconcerting when you turn your head. But we have never been bothered by them and our friends come down every year. This is our second trip.

July 15, 2012 07:24AM

616 Posts

We have just as many sharks here as anywhere else in the world. Luckily, due to our clear, clean waters and abundant sea life, humans are
rarely targets. I have seen many different types of sharks over my lifetime in these waters. Of course, if you feel the need to mess with a shark (yanking the tail of a sleeping Nurse shark, for instance) or are trailing just speared, bloody fish, you increase your chances of getting bit or targeted.

The chances are you'll get struck by lightning before getting attacked by a shark, out of the blue.

Sharks often come into Mangrove areas and sheltered bays to bear their young in the protected nursery environment.

I have even seen a Hammerhead but that was diving off of Sinking Rock in the cut between Cooper and Salt Island. I was a nervous wreck being 10 ft. away from it, all the while admiring the beauty and grace of this shark. Quite frankly, I was done with diving for the day after that sighting but back in the water the very next day. The more time you spend in the water, the better chance of seeing a shark(s).

The only fatal shark attack that I know of happened in the late 50's/very early 60's at Magen's Bay/Little Magen's beach.
They closed the beach to the public, baited traps, caught several large sharks, among them was the one responsible for the attack.
It got strung up and put on public display in front of the downtown fire station, next to the Fort.

As Lees mentioned, when looking for Octopus, look for the pile of shells stacked outside its hole. You then have the added benefit of getting a very nice collection of cleaned shells without harming the creatures inside as, unfortunately for them, they already been lunch. Octopus can give a severe bite if handled as they have very sharp and strong beaks so please, do not allow it to attach itself to your body.

Be aware of your environment and enjoy your swimming, diving and snorkeling.
Best rule of thumb for sea creatures is "look but don't touch!"

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