The Shark Species of Costa Rica
(and where to find them)
Costa Rica is home to a range of shark species and a ton of other marine life. Many of the shark species found below are found primarily in the Cocos Island region. If you are interested in diving with some of these shark species found off the mainland of Costa Rica, we will have a group visiting the Riu Guanacaste and diving with Rocket Frog Divers from October 5-12, 2019. During this trip you will have the opportunity to visit the Bat Islands and dive with Bull Sharks and mantas as well as possibly whale sharks. Local diving this time of year also features humpback whale season!
If you are interested in joining the group, visit this page and leave your information or email [email protected]. If you are interested in visiting the Cocos Islands and seeing some of the schooling hammerheads or other marine life found there, we can also help you arrange that trip!
One of the most recognisable species of shark, the scalloped hammerhead is indicative of Costa Rica and Cocos island in particular. These 12 foot (4 meters) sharks often congregate in great numbers around nutrient-rich seamounts. Schools of over 300 sharks are often seen around particular dive sites around the island. Fished in huge numbers across the globe, the scalloped hammerheads are officially engendered.
Cocos island is known for its hammerhead congregations, however, one of the most enigmatic sharks, the Thresher, inhabit the deeper waters off the island. The Thresher shark is famed for its colossal caudal fin used to stun fish before consuming them. Although rare in Costa Rica, there have been a number of sightings over the last 10 years.
Bat Islands, a short distance off the coast of Santa Rosa National Park is a location which during the spring season is known for its numbers of Bull Sharks. These thickset species are infamously known for attacks, and their ability to eat almost anything as they travel down the muddy rivers. Divers often interact with more than 5 bull sharks at a time, and when the sharks are not there is the opportunity to find many shark teeth buried in the sand.
This beautiful species is one of the largest to inhabit the waters of Cocos Island, reaching up to 24 feet. Tiger Sharks are also seen less frequently near the mainland, where sites include Guanacaste region and the Catalina Island. Tiger sharks predate on sea turtles and are known to be nocturnal hunters. If conducted in the correct manner, diving with Tiger sharks is a safe practice, and immensely memorable.
WHITE-TIP REEF SHARK
The most plentiful shark in all of Costa Rica, White-tip reef sharks are seen in large groups often lying in the sand or under rocks for protection. A small species, this species grow to a maximum of 7 feet. From the Pacific to the Caribbean, divers have a very good chance to encounter White-tips throughout the year.
Much like White-tip reef sharks, Nurse sharks are seen throughout both coasts of Costa Rica, growing to a length of 10 feet. Timid unless provoked, Nurse sharks often reside on the sand searching for skates and smaller fish with their feelers.
A pelagic roamer, the Galapagos shark frequently habituates the waters of Cocos Island, feeding on bait balls of fish. These sharks while smaller in size (growing to 11 feet) have an intimidating nature, often approaching close to divers before turning away.
Similar in size and nature to the Galapagos shark, the Silky sharks are curious and in turn, feed on the bait balls of jacks and other pelagic species that dwell in the open ocean. Another of the many shark species that live in the waters of Cocos, Silky sharks gain their name from their sleek appearance as they carve through the water.
The largest fish in the ocean, the Whale shark is one of the most desired sightings for divers across the planet. While there are places in the world where whale sharks can be seen, visibility is usually poor, yet off the Pacific coast at inshore sights such as Playas del Coco and offshore sights that include Cano and Cocos island between the months of June to September whale sharks can be seen filter feeding on plankton. Part of the golden triangle, Cocos Island is one of the only locations to encounter pregnant whale sharks which can reach up to 40 feet.