In the warm(ish) summer waters of New England, 30 to 50 miles (50 to 80 km) off the coast of Rhode Island, divers will find some of the world’s best blue- and mako-shark diving. Although the waters still only range from 60 to 70 F (15 to 21 C), the blue shark diving in Rhode Island from June through September is worth the chill. The ocean here is bursting with life this time of year, filled with nourishment for the migrating sharks.
Blue shark diving in Rhode Island
Numerous shark-diving operators depart from southern New England harbors in search of these sleek predators. Many run cage-dives, which allow for a safe interaction. Several of them, however, offer the chance to swim with sharks outside the cage, offering divers the chance to experience the shark’s world in close proximity to the animals themselves.
Most Rhode Island shark charters attempt to lure the sharks with chum, although of course a sighting is not guaranteed. Most operators will wait for up to four hours on the water before making the long return to shore.
Although visibility can reach up to 80 feet (25 m) during the summer, plankton blooms frequently reduce clarity to an average of 40 feet (15 m). Divers often regard these emerald-tinted waters as the most exciting conditions, since you’ll rarely see the sharks approach until they’re quite close by.
Blue and mako sharks
It’s most common to see blue sharks on these dives, with the more-elusive mako shark a rarer spot. Blue sharks are impressive migrators, traveling across vast bands of the Atlantic throughout the year, from the waters off the United Kingdom coast all the way to the coast of Newfoundland.
They often aggregate in larger numbers than mako sharks, and divers will frequently spot up to 15 individuals on an hour-long dive. Blue sharks are scavengers, usually feeding off carcasses in the pelagic waters. Makos are predators, feeding on birds, tuna and other marine species. Makos don’t often aggregate to feed, and if divers are lucky they’ll see one or two of these bolts of lightning pumping through the water with their muscular body. The short-finned mako is the fastest shark in world, reaching speeds of up to 46 mph (74 kmph) to capture prey.
The New England coast offers a wide variety of other marine life as well. Divers may spot mola mola, tuna, billfish and even the rare dolphin either underwater or on the journey to the site. Even basking sharks, the second- largest fish in the ocean, sometimes inhabit Rhode Island waters during June and July.