Koh Tao’s Blacktip Reef Sharks

Sail Rock or Chumphon Pinnacle are those dive sites in the Gulf of Thailand that became famous for whale shark encounters. But how about Koh Tao itself?

snorkeling with shark at koh tao

Of course, around Koh Tao’s shallower reefs whale sharks have already been encountered as well. If this happens to you then you are one of the very lucky ones. As such a huge shark usually does not come too close to shallow reefs.


koh tao reef snorkeling


snorkeling in koh samui


koh tao blacktip

But around exactly those shallow reefs around Koh Tao you divers and snorkelers can occasionally see the Blacktip reef shark.

This species of shark is one of the smaller sharks – adult animals can grow to a maximum size of 1 to 1,20 meters. Reportedly divers and fishermen have already seen individuals of 1,50 meters. The Blacktop reef shark is very common around tropical coral reefs all around the globe. With its black spot on the dorsal fin this type of shark cannot be confused with other types.

Around Koh Tao especially juvenile animals like to stay in the shallow and sheltered parts of the reef. We are talking here about very shallow water with a depth of 0,5 meters. Baby Blacktips are usually swimming along the beaches and rocky shores of Koh Tao. When they are still juvenile and if they are approached carefully and slowly, they are not shy at all. With a little bit of luck, they even come that close so snorkelers can take pictures of them.


But of course, the sharks are swimming very fast. When snorkeling in those shallow parts of the reef we need to stay quiet and let the sharks come. Don’t try to chase the little sharks – they’ll always be faster than you. Those juvenile sharks can especially be seen in Hin Wong Bay, Ao Leuk and Shark Bay on the eastern and southern side of Ko Tao.

Once they get bigger, they also become more shy. Encounters are rare and short. But the Blacktips still seem to have their favorite spots around Koh Tao. We’ve already seen bigger Blacktop reef sharks at Ao Leuk, at Twin Peaks close to Koh Nang Yuan and around Shark Island a little islet off Koh Tao’s southern coastline.

A shark encounter is always a very special moment – even experienced divers who have traveled the oceans cannot admit being fascinated by seeing Koh Tao’s Blacktip reef sharks.

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