Punta Cana Guide | Wildlife In The Dominican Republic

Does Punta Cana Have Sharks?

Wherever there is water, there will be marine life and therefore sharks, in Punta Cana, the beaches of hotels and resorts are safe areas, since they have buoys and wave breakers that do not allow any marine species as well as large waves to reach public spaces.

If you are very afraid of sharks and plan to visit the beaches in Punta Cana, you can rest assured that the beaches of Punta Cana have no problems with the presence of sharks, the Dominican Republic’s shoreline is bordered by a coral reef, this implies that sharks are very rare visitors in the coastal waters, since the reef is a natural barrier for them.

In addition, a shark is a predator that feeds mainly on large prey: seals, sea lions, less commonly dolphins, well, all types of large fish. Of all these individuals, only dolphins are found near the Dominican coast, and even then it is very rare, this implies that Dominican beaches are not feasible as a feeding area for sharks.

Additionally, a single person is not normally part of a shark’s diet, so there is practically no potential risk of an attack in the Dominican Republic or Punta Cana.

If you want to swim with sharks and get to know the marine life in Punta Cana, there are many different diving options in Punta Cana, guided by friendly people with a lot of experience and knowledge on the subject. On excursions you can snorkel with nurse sharks, these are extremely passive.

Punta Cana shark species

The most common species are catsharks, reef sharks, lemon sharks, nurse sharks, bull sharks, silky sharks, tiger sharks, blue sharks, and whale sharks. Although these are the most common species in the Caribbean area, it does not mean that they have large populations here. I have friends who have dived for 15 years in the Dominican Republic and have never seen a shark. That’s serious!

Are there great white sharks in Punta Cana?

Some small sharks have been seen on around some beaches, very rarely, but so far there has been no case of the great white shark in Punta Cana, Great white sharks spend most of their time in the open ocean, since 2017 in the Dominican Republic shark fishing is prohibited. The beaches of hotels and resorts that have buoys and wave breakers are very safe.

Punta Cana Shark Attacks

According to the Shark attack Data page that collects information on reported cases of shark attacks in different parts of the world, in the Dominican Republic, only 4 shark attacks have been reported since 1963 to date, the most recent incident was reported on 12 February 2016 at Bávaro Beach Punta Cana.

Narrative: Sandra Harris and Patricia Howe were staying at Club Hotel Riu Bambu and were directly opposite the hotel’s pool, but shoreward of white buoys that may have been marking the safe swimming zone. Several other people were in the water. When the two women saw a large wave approaching, they turned their backs to it. As the wave struck, both women were knocked down in the water, and Patricia’s leg was bitten.

The Most Insecure Beaches Of Punta Cana

The two most insecure beaches of Punta Cana are public beaches, these are the beach of Uvero Alto and Macao, these beaches do not have a wave breaker and also lack signs.

Don’t get me wrong, Macao and Uvero Alto are magnificent and beautiful beaches, the thing is that they have a public section and therefore it is not perfectly conditioned, there are sections of this beach that are occupied by hotels that are perfectly conditioned for private use.

Macao beach only has some signs that specify its high waves, and that it is a beach of surfers, so bathers must be very careful. In addition to this, there are the lifeguards placed in a tower for the best sighting of those in danger.

The lack of buoys and wave breakers allow any marine species as well as large waves to reach the maritime spaces that are supposed to be enabled for the use of vacationers. The only measures taken in this regard is the alert voice given by the sellers of the beach of Uvero Alto, who, seeing the shark fins from afar, immediately warns visitors not to enter the beach to bathe.

Punta Cana Shark Fishing

Previously there were no laws in the Dominican Republic for protection against shark fishing, but since 2017, shark fishing is prohibited due to an incident with a blue shark in Punta Cana.

Through Resolution No. 023/2017, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources ordered the ban on the capture and commercialization of all species of sharks, rays, parrotfish, and hedgehogs that inhabit the jurisdictional waters of the Dominican Republic and the commercialization of its derivative products throughout the national territory, including its export or import.

It is established that the shark ban is for an indefinite period. Concerning the “parrot fish” and “doctor fish”, a two-year ban was imposed for fishing or commercial exploitation throughout the national territory, and retention when they have been accidentally caught.

Eating Shark meat in Dominican Republic

In some places of the Dominican Republic, shark fin soup can be consumed, what most people don’t know is that eating shark meat is extremely harmful to health. They are predators that are at the top of the food chain. They eat fish that at the same time have eaten smaller fish, have eaten smaller organisms, and so on. Heavy metals and toxins accumulate in all the organisms in the chain thanks to the pollution of the seas.

Sharks are large receptors for these heavy metals and toxins – their meat is saturated with mercury, among other things. The accumulation of mercury in humans causes infertility, neurological disorders, autism, and coronary heart disease.

The Blue Shark Incident In Punta Cana

A blue shark died on the beach after being dragged out of the water by tourists and alleged lifeguards to take pictures with him. The incident occurred at the Arena Gorda beach in Bávaro, Punta Cana. A group of nine Dominicans were responsible for removing it from the water and then accommodating it on the sand to be photographed next to the animal.

This incident of much outrage at the international level prompted the establishment of the ban on shark hunting in the Dominican Republic.

The Blue Shark Incident In The North Coast

Another similar incident with a blue shark occurred on the coast of Sosua in the north of the Dominican Republic. A small blue shark swimming in Sosua Bay was abruptly pulled off the beach by a group of young people helped by fishermen.

The presence of the shark was a tremendous attraction for people on the beach, because it was known that more than a decade had passed that a blue shark did not come so close to the coast of this popular beach located in the eastern part of Puerto Plata province.

In spite of the fear that humans have of sharks, several tourists who were taking diving lessons swam next to the shark, which did not represent any threat.

The shark was returned to deep waters, the hunting or capture of sharks in the Dominican Republic is prohibited by law.

Blue Shark Dominican Republic
Tourist swimming with blue shark on the north coast of the Dominican Republic

The Importance Of Sharks In The Maritime Ecosystem

Shark species that live in the Caribbean play a very important role in the marine ecosystem. They feed on weak, sick or old fish, so they spread their genes. These keep the populations of these fish healthy and strong.

So, seeing sharks in a marine ecosystem is a sign of balance and the health of it. Unfortunately, in recent years, indiscriminate shark fishing to meet the demand for “shark fin soup” in the East has caused the populations of these fish worldwide to disperse to the point that there are already certain species that are about disappearing.

It is estimated that annual shark fishing is around 273 million. This is totally unsustainable and the consequences on ecosystems can be tragic, those consequences affect us too.

trauma and the bad press with the sharks began with the book and the movie “Jaws”. Since then the media, lack of education and ignorance have been responsible for perpetuating the bad image of the shark. There are species that can be a little more ‘daring’, but most shark species do not pose a threat to man.