Sharks are the most feared apex predators of the ocean, but they do not kill as many humans as Hollywood movies make you believe. Nevertheless, tourists traveling to Asian countries should become familiar with the dangers associated with the local wildlife. So, are there sharks in Vietnam?
No, there are no great whites in Vietnam. However, there are sizeable species of sharks that swim in Vietnam’s South China Sea. The most notable sharks are the Blacktip shark, the graceful shark, and the Pigeye shark. These sharks are not considered to be dangerous.
There Are No Great White Sharks In Vietnam
It might comfort many to know that no great white sharks are lurking around the coasts of Vietnam. Travelers hoping to go shark cage diving to see great whites during their time in Vietnam will need to visit places with cooler waters, like South Africa.
The Vietnamese coast spans over two thousand miles with no great whites. The climate of the South China Sea is simply too warm for these intimidating sea creatures. You rarely see the water temperature drop below seventy degrees during the coldest month (March), while it has an average of eighty-five degrees during its hottest month (July).
Which Country Has The Most Great White Sharks?
Great white sharks live in the cold (around fifty degrees) to relatively warm temperatures (around seventy-five degrees). There are mainly found on Chilean, Japanese, Oceanian, US, and South African coastlines.
South Africa has a reputation for having many great whites, but their numbers have dwindled in recent years.
Which Shark Species Are Found In Vietnam?
Though great white sharks stay away from the Vietnamese coasts, other species enjoy this environment. Tourists planning to spend time in the water, specifically boating and diving, can expect to see a few different sharks.
If you plan on swimming by the beach in shallow waters, do not anticipate being attacked by sharks, as they tend to stay away from these waters.
Though there have been some shark bites in the past, none have been lethal. The sharks found in the region that could potentially harm you are:
- The Blacktip Shark
- The Graceful Shark
- The Pigeye Shark
The Blacktip Shark Can Be Found In Vietnamese Waters
Black tip reef sharks bear their name due to their dark fin tips (on the dorsal, caudal, pectoral, and pelvic fins). This is a common species in tropical and subtropical environments, so the South China Sea is perfect for them.
These sharks are bulky with a defined and pointy noses. They can grow to a reasonably large size of 5 feet and weigh a hundred fifty pounds.
Are Blacktip Sharks In Vietnam Dangerous?
Their size and shape make them look aggressive, which they can be. However, their diet consists of fish and not humans. If you are diving in the waters of Vietnam, blacktip sharks may be curious and swim around you, but they are timid and will not attack unless provoked.
The Graceful Shark Swims In Vietnam
The graceful shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchoides) is a midwater species that enjoys living at depths of around one hundred and sixty feet. You must do some diving while in Vietnam to come across a graceful shark.
They are slightly bigger than blacktip sharks, capable of reaching five and a half feet in length. Like the blacktip sharks, they also have black-tipped fins though the tips are not as prominent.
Are Graceful Sharks In Vietnam Dangerous?
Given its large size, this shark could pose trouble to a human if it wanted to. However, despite having sharp teeth and a mouth capable of swallowing a hand, graceful sharks are not interested in humans. There have been no attacks to date.
Pigeye Sharks Can Be Found Swimming In Vietnam
The Pigeye shark (Carcharhinus amboinensis) is one of the biggest sharks on the Vietnamese coasts. It measures seven feet on average but can grow longer than eight. This shark has a varied diet, eating crustaceans, fish, whales, and dolphins.
Are Pigeye Sharks In Vietnam Dangerous?
Though it resembles the bull shark, which is aggressive and dangerous towards humans, the Pigeye shark is not on the list of dangerous sharks for humans to encounter.
The Pigeye shark has physical attributes that make it a possible danger to a person should it decide to attack; however, it shows little interest in humans and has a clean record for shark attacks.
Interestingly, the Pigeye shark has caused human deaths, but not in the water. Some people have died from eating Pigeye shark meat that had accumulated toxins. This species is classified as vulnerable by the IUCN.
Vietnam Shark Postal Stamps
In the early 90s, Vietnam Post releases a series of stamps depicting a variety of sharks as part of an entire underwater world collection. Below are six of them. Click to enlarge.
Tips To Avoid Danger In The Water In Vietnam
Though the risk of a shark attack is minimal in Vietnam, there are some precautions that tourists can take to minimize any risks.
- Avoid swimming if you have an open wound. Enough movies have shown that sharks are attracted to the smell/taste of blood, which is true. So, do not go diving or swimming with sharks if you are bleeding.
- Do not swim in major fishing areas. Fishermen use bait to attract their catch, which can attract sharks too. Some shark attacks worldwide have occurred because bait attracts sharks to an area with swimmers.
- Do not swim at night. Sharks are nocturnal animals and hunt mainly during the night. It is best to avoid coming across one at this time.
- Dive in groups. If you are diving (free diving or scuba diving), try to stick with your diving buddies. Sharks are generally docile, but staying in a group will further minimize the attack risk.
- Hit the shark’s nose. In the unlikely event that you find yourself getting attacked by a shark. Target their nose, as this is a sensitive area.
Are There Sharks In The Popular Halong Bay?
Visiting the beautiful islands of Halong Bay is a popular activity amongst tourists visiting Vietnam. Fortunately, there has been no sign of sharks in the area.
Tourists are free to swim, but some tour boats do forbid clients from swimming unless in specific locations. But this restriction has nothing to do with sharks; rather, the tour operators do not want to be responsible for any liabilities.
Where Can You Find Sharks In Vietnam?
If you want to see some sharks during your stay in Vietnam, your best bet is to go to coastal regions like the Hon Me islands, Phu Quy, Con Dao, and Cu Lao Xanh.