Can You Swim With Nurse Sharks?

Swimming with sharks might sound like an extreme adventure reserved for only the brave souls. However, not all sharks are aggressive predators. One such species is the nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum), known for its docile nature and relatively harmless behavior. So, can you swim with nurse sharks? Let’s dive deeper into this question.

The Behavior and Characteristics of Nurse Sharks

Nurse sharks are bottom-dwelling creatures commonly found in warm waters, particularly along the shallow reefs of the western Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. They typically inhabit areas with sandy or rocky substrates, where they spend most of their time resting or searching for food.

Their relatively slow and sluggish swimming style sets nurse sharks apart from other shark species. They have a broad and elongated body, reaching an average length of 7-9 feet. Nurse sharks can glide effortlessly along the ocean floor with their large, rounded fins.

Regarding behavior, nurse sharks are nocturnal creatures, meaning they are more active at night. During the day, they prefer to rest in groups or alone, often forming piles on each other.

Despite their relatively calm nature, nurse sharks have powerful jaws and sharp teeth, making them fully capable of defending themselves if threatened.

Interaction with Humans

While nurse sharks are not aggressive towards humans, exercising caution and adhering to responsible practices when swimming with them is essential.

Here are a few key points to consider:

  • Choose a reliable and experienced tour operator: When opting to swim with nurse sharks, ensure you book a tour with knowledgeable guides who prioritize your safety and the well-being of the sharks.
  • Respect their space: Never touch or harass nurse sharks or marine life. Maintain a respectful distance to avoid causing stress or discomfort to the sharks.
  • Do not feed or provoke them: Feeding nurse sharks can create an unnatural dependency on humans and disrupt their natural feeding behaviors. Likewise, avoid any form of provocation that may agitate the animals or provoke defensive reactions.
  • Be aware of their behavior: Before entering the water, observe the nurse sharks from a boat or a safe distance to gauge their behavior. If they seem agitated or display signs of aggression, it may be best to avoid swimming with them at that time.

Best Destinations for Swimming with Nurse Sharks

If you’re enthralled by the idea of swimming with nurse sharks, here are a few fantastic destinations known for their nurse shark encounters:

Ambergris CayeBelize
Bucket List DivesRoatan, Honduras
Tortuga IslandCosta Rica
Stingray CityGrand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Shark Ray AlleyBelize

These destinations offer a safe and controlled environment where you can engage with nurse sharks while respecting their natural habitat.


Swimming with nurse sharks can be an exciting and educational experience as long as it is done responsibly and with the utmost respect for these magnificent creatures.

Always prioritize their well-being and follow the guidelines provided by reputable sources and tour operators. By doing so, you can create unforgettable memories while contributing to the conservation efforts focused on protecting nurse sharks and their marine ecosystems.

Masud Rana is the dedicated content writer at SwimZer, bringing a passion for swimming and a flair for words together to provide you with the best swimming advice and tips. Dive in and join him on your aquatic journey!