Swimming with the Nurse sharks on Compass Cay is one of the top attractions for tourists visiting Exuma. For one family on vacation though, this popular outing almost ended in disaster.
An eight-year-old boy, Asher Jones was bitten by a Nurse shark while on vacation with his family. The Jones family was visiting the Bahamas from Utah. The family was swimming with the nurse sharks when one bit young Asher on his back.
Asher said, “ It was horrifying. At first I thought it was my dad pretending, but then I was like ‘no, my dad would not try to hurt me’ because it was digging into my freaking flesh. It was the most scary thing in my entire life.”
Luckily, the boy’s father, Jeremy Jones, was able to quickly remove the shark from his son’s body. The shark bit the boy’s shoulder blade, which prevented the teeth from going too deep. This in combination with the father’s quick actions prevented the boy from any serious damage.
A few medics were also on the excursion and were able to patch Asher up. They cleaned his wounds and assured him that he would not need stitches. Asher was reportedly fine once he realized he was okay.
Christine Jones, Asher’s mother, said she heard a scream when the shark bit her son. “I heard Asher scream — and not just any scream, the kind of scream that makes a mom’s world go into slow motion. Just thinking about his scream makes me feel sick and makes my heart rate go up.”
The Jones’ were told that swimming with the nurse sharks was safe and that they were not aggressive. The nurse sharks in Exuma are used to human interaction and get most of their feeding from them. However, although they are docile they are still wild animals.
Recently, a shark in Exuma also bit an Instagram model. However, in that instance, the girl was in an improper position- laying on her back in the water. For safety, visitors are recommended to stand with hands kept outside of the water. Petting the sharks should be limited to the tops of their heads and backs.
Visitors wanting to swim with the Nurse sharks should do research ahead of time. While these animals are typically calm, they are still wild and unpredictable. There is a degree of risk when getting into the water with them.
Families with children should take special consideration. It may not be a safe activity for children, especially smaller ones. If you do bring kids along, please keep a hold of them at all times. Even adults should be cautious, follow all of the rules, and keep an eye on the sharks around them. If a shark does bite, try to remain calm and get out as quickly as possible.
Young Asher is doing well now, but his mother says that looking back she would probably do more research and not allow the kids to go into the water. Mrs. Jones said that once Asher realized he was okay he realized he “had the best story ever to tell.”
“I watched Asher stand a little taller that day.”
Please always be cautious when interacting with wild animals, even in a semi-controlled environment with animals use to humans. Take extra care with children as well.
Please read our tips about visiting Exuma’s Nurse sharks to reduce the risk of incidents like this.