Swim with Nurse Sharks at the Compass Cay Marina on a Bahamas Day Tour to the Exumas. Whilst in the most part harmless to humans, these gracious marine animals have been acclimatised to visitors for many years and are known as pet sharks by the Marina’s owners.
While on the tour, you can swim with the famous Compass Cay sharks which live at the Compass Cay Marina and visited by over five million people year round.
The Compass Cay sharks found in the marina are a species called Ginglymostoma cirratum (commonly known as “Nurse Sharks”). These animals can live up to 25 years and grow up to almost ten-feet-long. A fully grown adult can weigh anywhere from 200 to 330 pounds by the time it is at its full carnivorous potential.
The origin of the name “Nurse Shark” is unknown exactly, though it could be attributed to the suction sound they make while fishing for food on the sea floor — similar to that of a nursing baby. It could also be that the name derives from the old English word for a seafloor shark, which is a ‘hurse’.
Compass Cay is located about mid-way up the exotic Exuma Cays. It is about eight miles north of Staniel Cay — another popular spot of the Exumas. It is exactly 75 miles south of the capital of the Bahamas, Nassau.
These slow-moving, bottom-dwelling beasts are, for the most part, harmless to humans but can still inflect much harm if they feel threatened.
The sharks feed off of life living on the seafloor. The strength of their jaw can crush through shellfish and even coral which they routinely feed on.
The sharks are brown-ish in appearance and have a tail fin which can grow up to one-fourth of their overall size. They are smooth to the touch which is also a distinctive characteristic.
Though their species is abundant in their contained range, their closeness with humans is still putting tremendous pressure on the wild Nurse sharks of the shallow western Atlantic and eastern Pacific Oceans.
Compass Cay is located on one of the most spectacular protected areas in all of the Bahamas and can be reached by boats of almost any size — even up to 180-foot mega yachts. It can be accessed via the Exuma Bank or Exuma Sound and charges $4 USD per foot of dockage required. There is an additional charge for electrical amps.
Famous celebrities and icons have frequented the Compass Cay sharks inside the popular marina. They have been seen on Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and the popular week-long television program, “Shark Week” which Compass Cay Marina has hosted.
The sharks at Compass Cay are by no means the only attraction of the cay. Beyond the sharks, there are over a dozen white sand beaches for lazying beach days. The turquoise colored sea water is clear and the visibility is perfect for snorkeling. Rarely is the sea conditions rough which mean that swimming is accessible for all.
Just ten minutes away by boat, which can be hired on Compass Cay for either a half day or full day, the fishing is plentiful and known nationwide as one of the best places to fish. You can go deepwater fishing all year round for snapper, grouper and bottom fishing. August and September, particularly, is great for tuna fishing.
In the spring and early summer, from April to June, your chances are high for dolphin spotting near Compass Cay. There is a quite impressive system of hiking trails for an Exuma island on Compass Cay. Visit the Bat Cave in the south of the cay or take the Jungle Walk to the west to enjoy the sunset and secluded beaches. Climb Compass Peak to the top of the island (approximately 92 feet tall). Rachel’s Bubble Bath is another often-visited spot in Compass Cay. Regarded as the islands most beautiful nature, it is a lagoon which often froths and bubbles at the surface.
Though the Compass Cay sharks are habituated to humans, normal precautions and safety measures should be taken to prevent danger. Listen to the trainers at Compass Cay Marina and follow their restrictions.
Compass Cay sharks have hundreds of razor sharp teeth and jaws strong enough to bite through rock hard coral. It is best to avoid threatening actions which you will be educated upon entering the marina’s pool.
To the South:
To the North:
Book a tour with Bahamas Air Tours which allows you to customize your itinerary and visit Compass Cay in the luxury of a private plane with the largest viewing windows of any aircraft in the world. This allows you to see the beauty which is the Exumas from a birds-eye view. Bahamas Air Tours offers Bahamas Day Tours to Compass Cay Sharks from Miami and Nassau.
With beautifully illustrated maps and informative destination guides.
Download the Guidebook