Florida

Miami Underwater Tour Gets You Up Close and Personal With Sharks

Lindsey Horner is preparing for her upcoming wedding in an unconventional way.

Her bridesmaids gave her an unforgettable experience when visiting Florida from Ohio – they went swimming with sharks.

"My bridesmaids really kind of suckered me into it," Horner said with a laugh.

Her sister and maid-of-honor, Jamie, took it a step further.

"This is a test of fate to see if she should go through with the wedding or not," Jamie said.

The four 20-something women boarded a charter boat with Miami Shark Tours to get an up-close look at sharks, without any cages.

The boat took the group that included NBC 6 Investigator Willard Shepard out about six miles into the Atlantic off Palm Beach County in an area they knew sharks would be.

Then guide John Moore tossed chum including raw fish meat into the water.

"Inside this crate is a mix of tuna and several we caught just this morning so they're very fresh," Moore told us as he tossed the crate overboard and allowed it to sink about 30 feet.

In a few minutes, the sharks had arrived, and Moore helped the bachelorette party wearing snorkels into the water.

Soon there were more than a dozen dusky sharks swimming in the water measuring six to 11 feet in length.

Moore reminded everyone that no one in the eight years he's been running the tours had anyone been bitten by a shark.

"Most bites would be a mistake," Moore said.

Still, Florida is the shark bite capital of the world.

"Shark bites, no matter which way you look at it, are a very rare event," said Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, the Director of Shark Research and Conservation at the University of Miami's Rosensteil School.

Hammerschlag is one of the world's most renowned shark experts.

"There are many occasions when people are in the water when sharks are around them and they don't know about it and the sharks are pretty much ignoring them," he said.

But shark bites get attention.

So far this year, 12 people have been bitten by sharks in Florida and four in the Bahamas.

"As he hit me I never saw him coming," John Hernandez said.

When a shark bit John Hernandez he was free diving in the Bahamas where underwater feeding is allowed. It's not allowed in Florida waters.

"I got hit so hard I thought the boat had run me over. When I look over all I could see was his body in my face," Hernandez said.

But Dr. Hammerschlag says the research doesn't link shark diving or shark swimming tours to more bites.

"The idea that shark diving, especially baited shark diving is increasing and could somehow be linked to the bites, I don't see any evidence to support that," Hammerschlag said.

He told us that the kind of up-close interaction offered with sharks must be done properly and any feeding needs to be done away from the participants

The bachelorette party participants say they left their experience with an entirely different view of sharks.

"They are really gentle like they are not going to hurt us even to be so close," Lindsey Horner said.

Contact Us