Friday, December 17, 2010

Sharm El-Sheikh Shark Attacks: Update

Global Shark Attack File

NEWS RELEASE For Immediate Release

Sharm El-Sheikh Shark Attacks: Update

Between November 30 and December 5, 2010 there were 5 unprovoked shark attacks reported from Sharm El-Shiekh, Egypt. Following these attacks the Egyptian government assembled an international team of experts to conduct a forensic analysis of the attacks: Ralph S. Collier, President of the Shark Research Committee and Director of the Global Shark Attack File; Marie Levine, Executive Director, of the Shark Research Institute; Moustafa Fouda, MSEA; Mohammad Salem, EEAA; and Nassar Galal, CDWS.

The team gathered eyewitness testimony, examined the attack locations, and reviewed the forensic evidence, including all environmental factors present prior to each of the attacks. The following is a list of those factors they believed to be contributor to the attacks:

* The illegal dumping of sheep carcasses by animal transport vessels within 1.2 miles of the shore.

* The unique underwater topography of the area; i.e., deep water very close to shore allowing pelagic sharks and humans to swim in close proximity.

* Although fishing is restricted in the Sharm El-Sheikh region, unrestrained fishing in the Red Sea has depleted fish stocks and reduced the amount of natural prey available to sharks.

* Shark and human population dynamics, i.e., 5 million people visit Sharm El-Sheikh annually and numbers of sharks migrate through the area each year.

* Feeding of fish by glass bottom boats and swimmers drew the sharks close to the beach.

* Elevated sea temperatures resulted in higher metabolic rates of the sharks and increased their energy (food) requirements.

* Although prohibited, it is believed that some dive operators have been feeding the sharks, which could have habituated the sharks to humans as a source for food.

It was determined from forensic evidence and eyewitness testimony that two species of sharks were responsible for the attacks; shortfin mako, Isurus oxyrinchus, and oceanic whitetip, Carcharhinus longimanus. Historical data obtained from the Global Shark Attack File for Egypt confirmed additional incidents from 2004 to the present (

Suggestions to reduce the potential for such future events were provided to officials for review and implementation.