In the past couple of weeks, tourists enjoying the waters off the west coast of Mexico have been attacked by sharks, one resulting in the unfortunate death of the traveler.
In Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, a tourist from Canada was attacked and killed by a shark in the water. An additional recent report of an alleged shark attack was also made by a Belgian tourist. However, a crocodile may actually have been the culprit in that case.
Despite the recent highly publicized reports of Western Mexico swimmers being attacked by sharks in the press, tour operators in Playa del Carmen are going forward with the popular adventure activity based on their years of experience without any incidents.
Safe Shark Swimming
According to Dive Instructor Ramón Magaña, travelers visiting Playa del Carmen during the peak winter holiday season can continue to enjoy the adventure of swimming with the bull sharks despite the reports of incidents on the other coast of Mexico.
Magaña said the popular tourist activity has actually been practiced for many years in the Mexican Caribbean without any issues or incidents. In fact, some tour operators started offering the popular tourist activity nearly 20 years ago in 2004.
The organizers of the swimming with sharks tour actually have protocols in place to avoid putting visitors enjoying the activity at risk from attacks. In fact, they specifically keep the sharks in deep water away from the beaches when hosting the tours.
Education is Key
The tour operators that facilitate the interaction between travelers to Playa del Carmen and the bull sharks say part of the issue with the shark attacks was the swimmers attacked were not familiar with the behavior of the animals.
That’s an advantage the divers have after years of hosting this activity for tourists.
They say the activity also helps educate visitors about bull sharks and the fact that they are not aggressive attackers of people in the ocean. Tourists that enjoy the tour adventure come away more educated about the animals and the role they play in the oceans.
Fewer Sharks Around
Magaña actually remarked that the number of bull sharks available for the popular swimming with shark tourist activity is actually down this year to only 10 to 12 sharks at any given time. This is a significant decrease from what has been seen in the past.
The tour operators really aren’t too sure why the numbers are down. However, they are speculating that climate change this year may actually have to do with it.
They say the ocean currents appear to be circulating differently this year off the coast of the Mexican Caribbean, and that may be the source of the decline in shark populations available for the popular adventure for visitors.
Others speculate that some fishermen are actually hunting the animals in the sea as one allegedly has appeared with some type of hook in its mouth. However, this is pure speculation and an unconfirmed story.
What Travelers Need to Know
Swimming with bull sharks is a popular tourist activity in Playa del Carmen.
While the activity has significant risks, tour operators claim they have processes in place to ensure visitors are protected while enjoying the tour.
Travelers should insist that all precautions are in place and should review tour operator reviews before signing up for the activity. Finding an operator that has a long track record of safety is essential to enjoying this opportunity to be up close and personal with nature.
Shark attacks continue to be extremely rare compared to the number of tourists enjoying the waters off Mexican beaches daily.
While they can’t be completely ruled out, the best practice is for travelers in the Mexican Caribbean to be aware of their surroundings and not provoke a shark if spotted in the water. Swimmers should then calmly exit the water, notify lifeguards, and wait for the shark to depart the area.
Plan Your Next Cancun Vacation:
Traveler Alert: Don’t Forget Travel Insurance For Your Next Trip!
Choose From Thousands of Cancun and Riviera Maya Hotels, Resorts and Hostels with Free Cancellation On Most Properties
↓ Join the community ↓
The Cancun Sun Community FB group has all the latest travel news, conversations and tourism Q&A’s for the Mexican Caribbean
Subscribe to our Latest Posts
Enter your email address to subscribe to The Cancun Sun’s latest breaking news affecting travelers, straight to your inbox.