Shark Tagging: The New Bahamas Experience for Eco-Caring Clients

Beneath the Waves boat
Beneath the Waves' boat

Many destinations used pandemic downtime to develop new products, approaches and experiences for guests when they could return. A new experience in the Bahamas combines hot-button travel themes including luxury, adventure, eco-tourism and bucket list travel.

The Bahamas Tourist Office, in conjunction with Grand Isle Resort in Exuma, Beneath the Waves (an ocean health and conservation organization) and the Bahamas National Trust recently teamed up to offer a shark-tagging experience in Exuma.

Open Jaw attended a virtual launch event for the new tourist experience in the Caribbean nation.

Surrounded by protected waters of a thousand turquoise hues, Exuma is home to hundreds of sharks which can teach visitors about marine life.

The program was started almost by accident when scientists, staying in the luxury Grand Isle all-villa resort (formerly the Four Seasons) asked staffers if they’d like to come along for the boat ride one day to see exactly what they do. The experience was such a success that it was opened up to visitors.

Up to 10 “citizen scientists” at a time join the Beneath the Waves teams on their 50’ boat to gently catch, examine and tag the sharks, which, when released, can provide data for as long as 10 years, tracked even by satellite.

Beneath the Waves team tagging a shark
Beneath the Waves team tagging a shark

The excursions last for four hours and, as Jamie Fitzgerald, Managing Director of BTW puts it, these are “unplugged experiences” – no cell phones permitted, though a photographer on board is guaranteed to get some memorable photography. Participants do not have to be guests of Grand Isle though guests will be given preference, and space is very, very limited. There is no “cost” per se but participants are asked to make a donation of US$500 per person.

You can see a video showcasing the experience here.

This latest experience enriches the Bahamas' combined conservation and tourism offerings. The country is home to 32 national parks encompassing some 2.2 million acres of land and oceans, including the unique Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park.

“The shark tagging program is a great way to get your hands wet and dirty while giving back,” said Dr. Austin Gallagher, world authority on sharks, during the presentation.

“These are prehistoric creatures that are both misunderstood and majestic. And the shark tagging is a unique outdoor experience in a safe destination. It’s a game changer.”

Advisors can learn more at Bahamas.com and grandisleresort.com/btw. Bookings can be made on the resort’s Activity page.

Beneath the Waves' team with guests
Beneath the Waves' team with guests

Martha Chapman

Columnist

An OJ columnist since 2006, Martha is responsible for the Biting Questions series as well as special seasonal series. She can often be seen On The Town covering industry events. Known to all in the biz, Martha has worked her entire career in travel, beginning as a teenaged hotel receptionist in Bermuda.

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