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Are There Sharks in Phuket? Are They Dangerous?

Are There Sharks in Phuket? Are They Dangerous?

Are There Sharks in Phuket? Are they dangerous?

Yes, there are sharks in Phuket.

Phuket is blessed with most docile and placid sharks possible. From the teddy bear like Leopard Shark to the gigantic and graceful Whale Shark there is no better place in the world to fall in love with sharks.

Shark attacks on divers are extremely rare throughout the world. In Phuket, and Thailand for that matter, have never had a documented case of an attack on a scuba diver.

We love our sharks and you should too.

Commonly Found Sharks

Leopard Shark

Leopard Shark at Hin Bida Phi Phi

Leopard Shark at Hin Bida Phi Phi

Also known as a Zebra Shark, depending on where in the world you are from. The Leopard shark along with the Black Tip Reef Shark are probably the two most common sharks you will find in the Phuket area.

They can grow to 3.0 metres in length and the largest ever was recorded at 3.5 metres.

Definitely the most photogenic of all of the sharks we have here. They are bottom feeders and we often see them lounging around in the sand. If they are approach carefully they are more than happy to pose for a pic or two.

With the ferocity of a field mouse there has only ever been one recorded unprovoked attack (2008 and not in Thailand). The diver was not injured.

The Leopard Shark can turn up at most dive sites around Phuket however they are more prevalent at the dive site named after them, Shark Point. They can also be found at Anemone Reef and around the Phi Phi Islands.

Black Tip Reef Shark

Blacktip Reef Shark at Koh Phi Phi Ley

Blacktip Reef Shark at Koh Phi Phi Ley

Phuket’s most common traditional shark looking shark. They can be found in good numbers around Phi Phi, particularly Phi Phi Ley. They too can be found at a lot of dive sites and have even been recorded at a shallow Kata Beach dive.

Their typical length is around 1.6 metres when they are fully grown.

They can be found swimming individual or in groups, sometimes as many as 30 – 40 together.

Phuket has only ever had one report of an attack by a Black Tip Reef sharks and that was non fatal in 2015. Under most circumstances, the blacktip reef shark has a timid demeanor and is easily frightened away by swimmers. There has been no recorded attack on a scuba diver in Thailand.

Because of their timid nature the Black tip Reef Shark is very difficult to get close to and to photograph.

Bamboo Shark

Bamboo Shark at Koh Doc Mai Phuket

Bamboo Shark at Koh Doc Mai Phuket

The Bamboo shark is very difficult to find. Often hiding under rocks or in crevasses. Most divers have never seen them out swimming around. Koh Doc Mai is probably the easiest place to find them.

They are small slender sharks and grow to no more than 1.2 metres in length.

They are considered harmless to humans and there has never been a recorded attack on a human.

More Difficult to Find

Whale Shark

Aussie Divers Phuket Whale Shark Racha Yai

Aussie Divers Phuket Whale Shark Racha Yai

The daddy of all sharks and by far the most popular of all sharks on the scuba diving circuit. They have the best bragging rights of all the sharks you will see in the area.

They are the largest fish in the sea and can grow to 18 metres in length. The largest ever recorded was 18.8 metres long.

They are not common in Phuket however they are not rare either. They have a habit of turning up at any of the dive sites however seem to be more prevalent on the liveaboard adventures and particularly at Richelieu Rock.

Generally considered harmless. However, there have been a few cases of whale sharks ramming sportfishing boats, possibly after being provoked. Usually, the sharks are more at risk of being struck accidentally by vessels whilst basking or feeding on the surface.

White Tip Reef Shark

Whitetip Reef Shark Similan Islands

Whitetip Reef Shark Similan Islands

Quite a rare find in Phuket although they are out there. Most common sighting are on the liveaboard adventures, particularly Koh Bon.

This shark rarely shows aggression. The shark has a naturally placid nature.

A lucky day if you were to see one here.

Guitar Shark

Rare Shark Ray Aussie Divers Phuket

Rare Shark Ray Aussie Divers Phuket

Not really a shark and is technically is a Sharkfin guitarfish. Mistakenly called a guitar shark and a ray. I looks to be a cross between a shark and a ray.

It looks like a shark and is very cool so we have placed them in here.

There are five different species and the largest, the Bowmouth gets up to 2.7 metres in length.

They usually rest in the sand and it is rare to see them swimming.

Quite a rare find in Phuket and they are quite timid when divers are around and are considered harmless to humans.

Myths or Real

Bull Shark

Rumors have been around for years that Bull Sharks are present in Phuket and the Andaman Sea.

However, the rule of scuba diving is, no photo no evidence” and to this day, personally I have no heard any realistic evidence of a scuba diver seeing them in the area. This is a good thing as they are considered the grumpiest of sharks.

Local fishermen claim that they are in the deep water off the south tip of Racha Noi however there has yet to be any firm proof in the scuba diving industry.

Hammerhead sharks

Another shark that has not been seen by divers in the area for many years.

However sadly, the evidence that they are still around keeps showing up at the local fish markets. Small hammerheads are often presented at the local markets and one would think that they are bycatch caught in fishing nets.

They are probably out there in deeper waters.

By Darren Gaspari

Proud owner and active PADI Gold Course Director of Aussie Divers Phuket, a professional and awarded PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Scuba Diving Centre. Member of the PADI Advisory Board for the eLearning modules 2019 and 2020.

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