Shark Series

How Common Are Sharks In Aruba Beaches?

Last updated January, 2019

Aruba Sea is hot

Humans or Sharks?

What do people ask themselves in the midst of their research of their vacation? Weather? Check. Tickets? Check. Good hotel deal? Check?

How about the sea temperature in Aruba? A healthy 84 degrees Fahrenheit average (29 degrees Celsius). Speaking of sea temperature, how about sea creatures such as sharks? Let’s explore this topic, please read on.

The Caribbean waters are filled with all kinds of marine life, including sharks. Did you know that on average 5 people are killed worldwide by sharks, while in the same time span people kill 100 million sharks? This is according to a conservationist Sharks4Kids, from the Bahamas (see above film).

How about sharks in Aruba beaches

Sharks are wild animals and people should be careful near these animals, just as people should stay away from wild dolphins as well. Back in 2007 there was a sighting of a school of wild dolphins near the shallow areas of Palm Beach, which prompted several tourists to foolishly approach these wild mammals. If you are not trained, please don’t try to approach these animals, however well-intentioned it may be.

Shark Feeding Story

One of the most popular and common stories hear about sharks in Aruba is really a funny one. Apparently, we locals feed the sharks on the opposite side of the island; this way somehow it will prevent sharks from going near the hotels.

Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that indeed there is shark feeding going on (which would attract a whole lot more marine life than sharks alone) at the opposite side of the island. What guarantee would you then have that after the feeding comes to an end the sharks won’t venture out to other areas near the coast to seek more food, therefore creating a whole new set of problems?

Additionally, it would seem very costly, time-consuming and unnatural to tackle this hypothetical problem, which makes this assumption not plausible. Please put this story in the “old wives tale”-column.

There are sharks and creatures in the sea

The fact of the matter is that there are animals in the water surrounding this beautiful island including a diverse and vibrant underwater sea life. It is uncommon, however, to witness sightings of such visitors like sharks, dolphins or jellyfish, to mention a few. Fact is that in recent times (since the tourism boom of the 90s) to this date (early 2015) no major shark attack has been recorded near any Aruba beaches.

Unfortunate incident

Having said that at the end of 2015 a tiny merchant boat traveling from Bonaire to Aruba, that was filled to the brim with spirits, took in some water and started sinking. In the treacherous and wavy waters, crew members frantically tried to hold on whatever they could to stay afloat. One crew member, while in the water, was attacked by a shark as he was being rescued by a coastguard helicopter. After being pulled out of the water he was rushed to the local hospital but unfortunately passed away due to the injuries sustained by the shark attack. This incident happened reportedly on the high seas and deep waters of the Caribbean at about 40 kilometers (25 miles) southeast of the island. Read more about this at The Guardian.

On occasion, there are reports of locals catching sharks, like large bull sharks. Local fishermen either go on boats or stay at the edge coastline to catch these rather dangerous fish. They typically go out early in the morning or late at night. They fish old-fashioned by throwing a line with bait, sit and wait. Should they get lucky and hook a shark, it could take an hour long fight for the fisherman to conquer the mighty shark.

Lastly, below is an interesting video about shark research in the Caribbean island of Turks & Caicos Islands. Please take notice that this island group is located in the northern Caribbean, 645 miles (1038 kilometers) away from Aruba and its ecosystem is dissimilar to Aruba’s. One-on-one comparisons between Aruba and Turks & Caicos, therefore, is not possible. Nevertheless, the general information and conservation efforts shown in the video are extremely valuable.

By Gabriel

Informing travelers about Aruba since 2007, and trying to provide value to Aruba visitors.

19 replies on “How Common Are Sharks In Aruba Beaches?”

Hi Gabriel, Together with the online newspapers i read your link on a daily basis allways checking for newly updates. Thanks for the great work. It’s a great way for visitors and Arubians overseas to keep the Aruba feeling alive. Keep up the great work.

p.s the Aruba tourist Authority should hire you for your promo. work for Aruba!!

We were in Aruba 38 years ago and they did dump carcasses of dead animals and food in the water on the windward side of the Island of Aruba.There were sharks in the water feeding off of the carcasses. It was in an alcove of rocks that were 80 feet high. If you fell into the water there was no beach to swim to. We saw the dumping of the food with our own eyes. Maybe they discontinued doing this practice, but we definitely witnessed it.

Thank you for leaving your observations Carol. It’s no secret that waste management on this island was quite questionable back in the 70s and 80s and even before. Arguably, it’s still challenging to this day for this island to process the tons of waste it produces, especially due to the explosive growth in tourism it experienced since the 90s.

Indeed, the environment of this island suffered back then under the lack of regulation and implementation of the little rules there were. To make matters worse the presence of a very polluting and filthy multinational oil refining industry wasn’t helpful either.

As you note in your comment, I can wholeheartedly confirm that people did dump animal waste into water back then, but it wasn’t limited to animal waste alone, as all kinds of trash was dumped there. The place you mention as “on the windward side” is called Boca Mahos, which freely translates to “Ugly Mouth”.

It got its name with the locals due the especially violent and perhaps ugly crashing of the surf on the big volcanic boulder coastline. Boca Mahos, nowadays, is a “regular” coastline spot that offers a great photo opportunity and is located near popular tourist attraction The Ruins of Bushiribana, located on the way to Natural Bridge (the fallen one).

The result of the dumping of the waste was that the area became infested with sea creatures, including, but not limited to sharks. It quickly became a popular spot for local fishermen to on the edge of the water, on top on the rocks to throw in a line in the hopes to catch something.

Meanwhile the name and infamy of Boca Mahos kept growing as the place became increasingly eerily due to an increasingly garbage stench, wild animals (dead and alive), big surf and also due to other incidents.

Eventually the dumping was prohibited, the area was cleaned up and things returned to normal. However, after the cleanup some fishermen returned there kept using the area to throw in a line to catch some fish. To attract fish they threw bate into the water, which occasionally worked.

In the present you can still admire some fisherman siting on the rock throwing in a line, but sharks are not on the list to be caught. They are there to catch for mostly personal consumption. If you want to earn a living fishing it will not suffice sitting on a rock and wait for fish, but rather you need to have a boat.

Sounds like Hank is PMSing. Thanks for the article, it was pretty logical and straightforward. Just what I needed.

My husband and I were snorkeling off Arashi Beach today, heading toward Boca Catalina, and spotted a shark resting under a large sponge overhang. This is our third snorkeling trip to Aruba and each time we something new.

Hey Christine, thank you for commenting. As you say, you saw each time you were in the water something new, including a shark (a baby shark I presume). As I wrote in the article, sharks and all kinds of sea life is common and to be expected in the waters around Aruba, however, major shark attacks are not common here. That is not my opinion, but supported by numbers. What I know also is around the coral riffs by the southern part of the island (De Palm Island area) baby sharks are more commonly found.

Gabriel, Yes, I agree. My enthusiasm is genuine and not to stir any fear. It was a young shark which we went back to see for a second and third time. The thrill was to see the beauty of sea life in their natural habitat. We are fairly well traveled. Nothing we have experienced compares to snorkeling off the beaches or Aruba.

It was very nice to read your article, my wife and I are considering coming to Aruba this August/September to celebrate our 45th anniversary. Our son and some friends were there three years ago and still talk about it, so we are coming. Would love to hear abut the life there.

Hi Stephen, thank you for stopping by. Congratulations with your 45th anniversary and hopefully you decide to come. Currently, I’m currently writing new content, so if you are more specific about what exactly you would like to know about life here on this island, I’d sure consider writing a post about it. Let me know. Congratulations again.

I’m coming on a cruise ship in April. What do you suggest as the best excursion to see the Island and have fun and drinks. Ages 21-26

Hi Nancy, when the island reopens, try an off-road excursion, combined with a sail cruise, where you can enjoy drinks and meet people in your age group. The adventure first, relax and drinks later in the day. Thank you for your comment.

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