Few underwater encounters spark the imagination as much as seeing a shark while diving. Sharks play a critical role in maintaining the health of marine ecosystems and the waters off Jupiter Florida provide habitat for a wide variety of sharks. Identification is often based on body features such as type and number of fins, snout shape, and number of gill slits.
Caribbean reef sharks are commonly found under ledges and grow to nearly 10 feet long.
Nurse sharks are nocturnal hunters and return to the same resting place each day. Growing up to 10 feet in length, they have a sweeping curved tail and whisker-like barbels.
Bull sharks frequent both salt and freshwater locales. Reaching lengths of over 11 feet, they have thick bodies and can be territorial.
Tiger sharks are identified by their distinctive striped markings--the younger the shark, the darker the markings. Tigers can reach up to 21.5 feet.
Lemon sharks are migratory and visit the waters off Jupiter during January and February. Known for their color, Lemon sharks have a pale lemon brown hue to their skin. Mature lemon sharks typically measure in around 10.5 feet.
Blacktip reef sharks are easy to identify by the black markings on the tips of their fins. Also, migratory, these sharks swim through Jupiter in large aggregations usually beginning in February.
Although less common, hammerhead sharks with their distinctive T-shaped heads, Katherine, a tagged celebrity great white shark, and even gigantic whale sharks have graced the waters off of Jupiter.
Divers can see sharks any time they jump in the water, but some dive sites are more popular with the pelagics than others. Captain Mike's is popular with reef sharks and rays year-round, and popular with lemon sharks in January and February. Lemon Drop, as its name suggests, sees an influx of lemon sharks in the early months of the year. More reef sharks can be found at Area 51. Likewise, look for reef sharks on Tunnels as soon as you dive in, and then toward the end of the dive at the Donut Hole, look for Caribbean reef sharks napping in the hole. Lemons also visit the Zion Train. Nurse sharks can be found anywhere there are ledges and often call one place home their entire life.
Not everyone wants to see a shark, but the fear of sharks is often based on a lack of understanding. If encountering a large marine animal makes you nervous, consider taking a Shark Specialty Course, and learn how to identify the different species that frequent our waters, and learn how to evaluate shark behavior. Seeing a shark shouldn’t be frightening, but it should always be exciting!