The shark tourism industry in the Bahamas is growing rapidly, bringing in around $80 million to country’s economy every year.
Since the Bahamian government banned shark fishing in 2011, tour operators have promoted shark tourism as a great way to learn more about the underwater creatures. It is thought that tens of millions of sharks are killed every year for their sought after fins, but marine experts and tourism specialists have said that while a set of fins can be worth a few hundred dollars, a live shark can be worth thousands.
The island of Bimini in the Bahamas has become the world’s first educational dockside diving site and aims to dispel myths and misconceptions of the misunderstood fish. "Sharks are under siege around the world and we have found that positive encounters with sharks change attitudes and mindsets, allowing for the continued preservation of these animals in ways that negative encounters cannot accomplish,” said a spokesperson for the Bimini Bull Run shark sanctuary.
"Tourism is a big part of the Bahamian economy, within that diving and shark diving in particular is very valuable," said Liz Karan, manager of global shark conservation at Pew, a non profit charitable organization which works with the Bimini Bull Run. "I think there's interest in that particular area just because it's one of the few places left in the world that have relatively healthy shark populations."
The Bahamas is the only place in the Atlantic where sharks are reliably found and the location of the Bimini Bull Run means visitors are guaranteed an experience packed with sharks.