The Shark Whisperer

Stuart Cove wrangles sharks and trains Hollywood stars.

May 19, 2016
Stuart Cove's Dive Bahamas, Scuba Diving, Sharks
With more than 180 staff at five locations across Nassau, Stuart Cove’s diving operation offers instructors to yachts. Fin Photo: Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas

Born and raised in the Bahamas, Stuart Cove has been diving nearly as long as he’s been walking. His father, who is a fourth-generation dentist and avid diver, taught Cove about scuba at age 5. Soon, Cove found himself working on one of his uncle’s dive boats. Cove was initially encouraged to be like his dad and become the family’s next dentist, but a debilitating tremor in his hand that would have required daily medication led him down a far more exciting career path. He opened what serendipitously turned into one of the most successful scuba operations in the Bahamas, offering experiences that include interacting with sharks in one of four locations.

Stuart Cove's Dive Bahamas, Scuba Diving, Sharks
The original shark selfie? Courtesy Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas

A lightbulb went off, and I thought, Do I really want to be doing this, something I have to take a daily drug for? I dropped out of the University of Western Ontario and returned to the Bahamas, promptly getting a job as an all-around diver on the James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only. I got to train the stars, the director or any other important person who came on the set. It was during For Your Eyes Only that I learned how to wrangle tiger sharks.

Stuart Cove's Dive Bahamas, Scuba Diving, Sharks, Paul Walker
Cove was fortunate enough to get to work with Paul Walker on Into The Blue. Courtesy Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas

Up to that point, I thought: When you see a shark in the water, they’ll eat you. One day, we were setting these bait lines, and this huge hammerhead swam by, and I yelled, “Hammerhead!” Then all the foreign crew, the guys from California, grabbed their masks to jump in the water to see it. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought, You know, these sharks aren’t as bad as people are led to believe, and people want to see them. We knew this place where there were a lot of sharks because people fished there. We’d go out there and snorkel with the sharks. Then we realized this is really freaking cool and started bringing tourists. It was one of the first places in the world you could interact with sharks.

Salma Hayek, Stuart Cove's Dive Bahamas, Scuba Diving, Sharks
Salma Hayek smiles for a photo with Cove. Courtesy Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas

Bahamas In 3 Steps:

1) Flats-Fishing: Andros earned the title “The Bonefishing Capital of the World” in large part thanks to its expansive mangroves and flats.

2) Bit of History: Tour Preacher’s Cave and stand in the footsteps of Capt. William Sayle, who first settled the Bahamas nearly 400 years ago.

3) Beach Heaven: Readers of Caribbean Travel + Life recently voted Treasure Cay Beach in the Abacos one of the best beaches in the region.

Stuart Cove's Dive Bahamas, Scuba Diving, Sharks, Robert Redford
Robert Redford is another Hollywood star Cove has had the opportunity to work with. Courtesy Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas

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