15 Feb 2016

Why would you want to dive with hammerhead sharks in Sudan?

Perhaps diving with sharks is not on your bucket list yet but now you can find out why it should be. One of the most exciting things about diving is the opportunity of meeting up with sharks!

Divers from many corners of the world visit Sudan mainly because of the unparalleled pristine marine life that promises a one-of-a-kind diving experience.

Hammerheads in Sudan
Many people cannot even imagine how fantastic the sight of dozens of scalloped hammerhead sharks can be until they dive in Sudan where the species is indigenous.

So then, if you are ready to step up to a higher dimension on your next diving safari, read on to learn more about hammerheads! Where you can meet up with them, how to dive among them safely and what you can expect when meeting them.

The scalloped hammerhead shark in Sudan

The hammerhead shark’s uniquely shaped skull is not designed to make swimming easier. It is shaped as a hammer with the eyes located at the two ends. Its nostrils are next to the eyes, spaced wide apart. The eyes are protected by a third, retractable eyelid from injuries during hunting. The wide-set round eyes ensure a 360-degree view onto the world.

Diving with Sharks in Sudan
They tend to grow to the length of about 3.6m or even to 4.3m and weigh around 152.4kg. The 2-3m specimens are considered adults. The large, flat hammer-shaped head thins out towards the eyes and bends a bit backwards. Its body on top is grey, grayish brown or olive brown in colour and white on the bottom. The bottom of the end of the pectoral fins is grey or black. The first dorsal fin sits high while the second dorsal fin and the other fins are placed lower on the body.

The hammerhead sharks give birth to live pups, usually 12-31 at a time. The pups are about 43-55cm in length.

The adults commonly live a solitary life or in pairs and the young ones in large schools. Their main source of food is bony fish and cephalopod (ie. octopus, squid, cuttlefish, etc.) but they also hunt for crabs, sharks and rays. Their life can span up to 35 years. Hammerhead sharks are the victim of commercial fishing, mainly for their skin and fins. Vitamins are made of their liver oils. The remaining parts of the fish are used as feed on fish farms.

Where can you meet hammerheads sharks in Sudan?

When talking about the Sudanese Red Sea, it is important to note that at most sites you will meet up with sharks. The real unique nature of the sea in Sudan is the chance to be surrounded by so many sharks that you can barely see beyond them which even amazes dive guides with extensive shark dives under their belt.

Scuba diving with sharks in Sudan
There is a good chance to see sharks at most coral reefs, especially in the early morning hours. They will usually appear in the deep blue, so it is best to move away from the reefs a bit. The biggest schools (with up to 60-80 individuals) can be found near Shaab Rumi, Sanganeb and Shaab Jibna.

It is always important for the dive guides to know the dive sites inside and out to be able to find the sharks quickly, so everybody can get a chance to marvel at their sight.

How to get the sharks to get close to you? You don’t have to. The presence of huge schools of sizeable groupers is reason enough for the large predators to appear. Thanks to the scalloped hammerheads’ peaceful nature, they can easily be approached.

Scuba diving with sharksWhat can you expect exactly?

Perhaps at first it may sound scary and even dangerous to a diver to swim among so many sharks in their natural habitat and be so exposed but in reality they are harmless and very curious creatures.

The schools of sharks are always on the move, they will not stop and start circling the divers. They keep their distance and they are not too fond of the bubbles.

How to stay safe while diving with hammerheads?

You can expect to see larger schools along the drop-offs and walls and in the deep waters. This means that with the deep below you and the surface 30-40m above you, it is important to have stable buoyancy and not end up with a sawtooth profile in your computer after the dive.

Hammerhead shark Red Sea
Even if the sight has you in its grasp, start ascending when your computer is signalling. Always stay with your group and keep your eye on your dive buddy and your diving mates, don’t get lost in the view of the sharks.

Always stay safe!


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Author: Livia (Volgyesi) Hertelendy