The Famous Sharks of Compass Cay

by Rae Hartwell
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Photo by Rae Hartwell

Did you know Nurse Sharks bite more people per year than any other shark? Frequently bites go unreported because many occur on vacations.

Nurse Sharks feeding as a compiled group in chummed water at Compass Cay, Exuma.
Photo by Rae Hartwell

Before You Dive into Tropical Waters
Bikini-Clad, Brave, Chum in Hand, Camera Rolling…

WildLogica strongly suggests adventurers avoid jumping into chaotic shark behavior and chummed water for a coveted Instagram photo. An Instagram model recently had her hand and arm attacked because a Nurse Shark may have confused her fingers for squid! Nurse Sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum) are known to exhibit natural defensive biting if they feel disturbed. Their sucking mouth is strong enough to extract a Conch snail clean out of it’s shell and their teeth move in a cheese grater motion. So if you do get in the water, simply let the sharks swim up to you, as sharks do at Compass Cay.

It is advisable to admire sharks on their own terms.

The crepuscular Nurse Shark has white eyes that reflect light for hunting during dark twilight hours (dusk and dawn). Generally living in deep colorful reefs with rocky areas to hide while they sleep during the day, the sharks exit their rocky ledge come nightfall to feed.

This indicates Nurse Shark behavior at Compass Cay is unnatural
and unusual for the species.

Nurse Sharks swimming at peak sun in the waters at Compass Cay, Exuma.
Photo by Rae Hartwell

How is any of this harming Nurse Sharks?

Human-altered conditions can lead Nurse Sharks to not assess an ideal habitat for themselves resulting in poor choices and unusual living conditions. Behavior modification leads to lower reproduction rates of the species. These changes are one way a species can become endangered. Due to Nurse Shark habitats becoming an attraction for human activities, especially in the Caribbean, pressure is now applied on their healthy species.

And don’t be discouraged. Considerate Tourism is still fun and exciting, sans guilt of interfering with mother nature’s grand design! Your independent choices as a tourist undoubtedly make the environment and the planet a more happy place. And doesn’t that feel SO good? As a travel safety advisory, utilize mindful interaction with these seemingly nonchalant beauties.

VOCABULARY:
_____________________
cre·pus·cu·lar
/krəˈpəskyələr/
adjectiveof, resembling, or relating to twilight.
ZOOLOGY
(of an animal) appearing or active in twilight.

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