May 10, 2024

At long last - Bull sharks!

The first few months of 2024.

It has been a long while since the new year, but 2023 concluded with a Roatán whale shark for Christmas and January started with our first probable sighting of a bull shark in La Ceiba. This was followed by a large mystery shark in shallow water in Trujillo. We’re pretty confident that it was a scalloped hammerhead and we’re curious about what it was doing so close to shore. Was it a female using the shallows to give birth or could it be exhibiting signs of stress after capture? Talking of hammerheads, April was a good month to see them with six sightings and our first sighting of two scalloped hammerheads at the same time (between Valley of the kings and 40ft point). Roatán’s Pigeon Cay continues to have the occasional lemon shark joining the nurse sharks that are commonly seen there. Caroline Power spotted a smaller lemon shark a little bit further west. The Whale Shark and Ocean Research Center provides many sightings from Utila. The majority are nurse sharks, but they did have one sighting that was difficult to identify due to a swift retreat. Lucy (Utila’s leucistic/piebald nurse shark) was last sighted in January at Joshua Swash. Utila also had a silky fishing interaction documented by @Blancaenutila. The Roatán Reef Explorers sighted an oceanic whitetip shark fairly close to shore during the Roatán Fishing Tournament.

We are very excited with our first bull shark sighting from the Mud Hole area (main photo). Daniel Giraldo says that he has actually seen them a few times there, so we’re looking forward to talking with him some more. We have had reports before of bull sharks sightings, but could never verify them. This left us wondering why we weren’t seeing any. Bull sharks should be fairly common along the northern coast. There is a well known seasonal aggregation in Playa del Carmen, Mexico and they are regularly sighted in parts of Belize. Roatan and Guanaja are separated by deep water, but the distance is not large enough to provide a permanent barrier to migration. Now that we have had two credible sightings, perhaps we will start to see this formidable species more often. It will be interesting to see if their presence helps protect the reef by reducing the temptation to spearfish.

Until next time, please keep reporting those sightings!

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