The number of shark attacks in the Red Sea has increased in recent months. Dozens of people were seriously injured in the past eight months, but there are also deaths to regret. Diving, snorkeling and swimming has been banned at various places, such as The Brother Islands. What is causing these attacks?
Diving in Egypt
The Egyptian government is worried and surprised. Experienced divers and marine biologists are not. They have been warning for years about the consequences of overfishing and mass tourism in relation to shark behaviour. There are several suspicions, such as the illegal feeding of sharks and the dumping of dead cattle, during livestock transportation at sea. According to experts, the 'attackers' are white tip reefsharks which despite their natural behaviour, are increasingly visiting coastal areas.
Transporting livestock by sea
What is drawing the sharks to the coast is unknown. Overfishing and mass tourism seem unlikely as causes. The Red Sea is one of the most fish-rich waters in the world and mass tourism has been around for years, although a critical limit may have been crossed. Less well known but much more likely is the transport of livestock in the Red Sea. Eyewitnesses say that during these transports carcasses are regularly dumped into the sea. Sheep are often transported in Egypt under the worst conditions, and many die during the journey. The carcasses are then disposed of in the sea, even in the immediate vicinity of divers and seaside visitors. The abundance of blood and food in the water may influence natural shark behaviour.
Sharks do not eat people
The feeding during liveaboards is also investigated as a cause. More and more often, food is thrown into the water during diving trips to outdo competing companies, resulting in more sharks, more aggressive and deviant behaviour and more bite incidents. Other possible causes are: Irritation of the senses, poor visibility, unusual sounds and electrical signals, for example as a result of underwater cameras. It is of great importance that conclusions are drawn quickly, followed by effective measures, otherwise it is not man but the shark that will get the blame. Just for the record: Sharks do not feed on people. Many thousands of dives take place every day in the Red Sea, but since 1976 fewer than ten divers have been killed by sharks. Most of them were harpoon fishermen.