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The Reasons For The Increase In Shark Incidents In The Red Sea

HEPCA Report 2022

On Friday, 7/1/2022, at 5:30 pm, the Red Sea reserves received a report of a shark attack on a 67-year-old Austrian woman, and this attack led to her death while she was being transferred to the hospital. The environment and the Red Sea Governorate witnessed the occurrence of this accident, and a group of specialized environmental researchers went to the site of the accident and the hospital to which the body was taken, in order to collect all information related to the accident, as well as examine the body to assess the size and nature of the injuries it sustained.

The members of the committee examined the bodies of the victims and studied the available photos of the places of amputation. The examination could be attended in the following points:

First: Of the two incidents, it was done through the type of tiger shark, and the committee was convinced that it was done by one tiger shark. The committee estimated the circumference of the upper jaw according to what is found on the body of the second victim (in the discovery), as well as estimating the diameter of its middle with values ​​ranging from 40 to 48 cm. Accordingly, the total length of the shark that carried out the attack was estimated according to the following equation:

Tiger Shark Y (Bite Circumference ( = 1.085x – 1.153 mm (Lower et al, 2009)


The possible scientific explanation for the reasons for the unusual approach of this type of shark to shallow places at this time of the year is closely related to the behavior of the females of this type of shark during the feeding season. When it is scientifically proven, and according to the conclusions of many research studies, that female tiger sharks migrate from their deep water living places towards the coast in shallow places to put the young, and it is believed that this is closely related to providing protection for the young from the danger of predation from marine creatures that reside in open water. This is due to the low presence of these predators in shallow places, as well as the availability of natural food sources for youngsters in shallow places other than their scarcity in open places, in addition to providing protection for youngsters from the dangers of being eroded by sea currents and waves. Many studies and research specialized in this field indicated that there is a strong relationship between the migration of female tiger sharks to put the young in shallow places and the increase in the frequency of incidents of their attack on humans in those places at these times, and it is likely that this is either a result of the need for these fish to feed more. It is usual for the purpose of providing fetuses with protein needs for growth in the last stages before giving birth, or fear for their young of the dangers that humans may pose to their young in those coastal places because of the large size of the human being, which prompts them to attack him in order to control places of influence.

Reasons for the increase in shark accidents in the Red Sea:

All accidents have been linked to abnormal human behavior based on the excessive use of marine resources, the most important of which is overfishing and the excessive use of coral reefs as a result of the high rates of use of marine activities such as diving and snorkeling, as well as human behavior by providing food intentionally or not. The reasons can be summarized as follows:

First: Poaching Activities

The natural stock of fish in the Red Sea has reached critical limits as a result of overfishing activities. Although the Red Sea on the Egyptian side is not considered important fishing areas due to its scientific concept, due to the low fertility of its waters in terms of its ability to produce living organic matter such as fish, the fishing effort (Fishing units, numbers of fishermen and recreational fishing practitioners) is still blatantly high, and the natural stock is constantly decreasing. To indicate this, the area of ​​coral reefs as ecosystems is the main source of fish production despite its high economic and environmental value, but it is limited in area. per square kilometer, meaning that the maximum safe fishing rates without violating the natural stock should not in any way exceed 2000 tons annually. The quantities come from the coral reef environment, and this indicates a clear indication that the natural stock of fish in the Red Sea has deteriorated to the critical limits, and that decisive measures must be taken to stop this deterioration in order to ensure the future of the fishing profession and other industries related to the marine environment, especially tourism, taking into account Addressing the effects of the economic and social situation of the fishermen community in Red Ink. Fishing activities in the Red Sea carry out four main categories:

The traditional fishermen: whose numbers exceeded 3000, most of them are now coming from the northern delta regions due to the deterioration of fishing in the northern lakes and Lake Karun. Their practice of fishing in the Red Sea, using their method of fishing in their original areas such as the use of non-selective drift nets in fishing operations, has led to a rapid deterioration in the natural stock and the death of large numbers of fish fry and colorful fish inhabiting coral reefs, which is one of the tourist attractions.

The hobbyist group: Their numbers have increased dramatically, and they are unprofessional and unlicensed, and they mostly carry out hunting activities for a commercial purpose to increase their income, and many of them use illegal methods in the hunting process depending on the legally prohibited hunting rifles.


Recreational fishing: There is no doubt that the fishing effort resulting from recreational fishing activities carried out by the affluent, whose impact on the natural stock of Red Sea fish may exceed the impact of traditional commercial fishing activities in some areas, including the area of ​​the two incidents under study. With this activity, they have the financial ability to obtain the latest technologies from fishing tools to reach large-sized fish populations as well as giant calamari species that live in depths of up to 200 to 400 meters. Large fish and calamari represent a major food source for large size sharks such as tiger shark, mako and oceanic. These gatherings are a haven and a remaining source of food for these animals after the sharp deterioration of fish stocks in shallow areas (less than 10 meters depth) as a result of overfishing activities as well.

Dredging boats: They often come from Suez, and they are commercial fishing boats that depend on the dredging of all organisms close to the bottom, which is not optional. In addition to their harmful impact on sensitive marine systems, the most important of which are coral reefs, they fish all organisms, including what is not economic, and these methods do not Suitable for the environment of the Red Sea.

With the decrease in the natural stock of fish, this is an indication that there is not enough food for sharks, and this leads to:

The sharks are forced to expand their search for food, and thus their access to the beach areas is uncommon, as these are areas that are heavily exploited by tourists and divers.

The scarcity of food leads to the ease of attracting sharks to any areas where food or even leftovers are provided by tourist boats, and thus they become accustomed to the presence of tourist boats and divers are linked to the presence of food, and therefore they take these sites as housing and this is an unusual behavior in shark groups.

Second: Excessive use of diving sites:

There is no doubt that there is an excessive use of diving sites, which exceeds their absorptive capacity, and in general in all areas of the Red Sea. The evidence for this is that there are some sites that receive a stupa of more than 200,000 dives annually, noting that safe diving ranges from 5 to 22,000 dives annually for one dive site. This is due to the scarcity of suitable diving sites in the Red Sea compared to the numbers of divers and practitioners of other harpoon sports. The absorptive capacity of the marine environment was not taken into account as one of the determinants of the size of development, and therefore we have reached the stage of excessive use of the marine environment in general and coral reefs in diving sites in particular.

This excessive use, whether it is the numbers of tourist boats or the numbers of divers, leads to the issuance of strong sounds continuously in the diving sites, and these sounds are among the factors that attract sharks to the diving areas. In addition, such excessive and intensive use leads to the deterioration of coral reefs, and thus their ability to produce food for the organisms inhabiting them, especially fish, which are the main food for sharks, and thus the scarcity of food for these predators.

Third: Abnormal human behavior through feeding intentionally or unintentionally:

This is one of the main factors that is believed to have changed the behavior of brush fish and attacking swimmers and more recently divers. They are summarized as follows:

The crews of the boats throw baits to the sharks in order to attract them to the surface and provoke them with these baits as a kind of excitement for the visitors, such as offering chicken by tying it with a rope and then raising it whenever the sharks approached. This is repeated many times, which leads to the excitement of sharks and push them to carry out such attacks. Even throwing food from boats on the surface of the water leads sharks to believe that the spinning bodies may be food. To be sure of that, the only way to know if it was food or not is to bite. This may explain the accidents that occur to swimming and snorkeling practitioners, especially in conditions of scarcity of food (fish) as a result of overfishing.

The coastal boats dump organic waste, which includes the remains of meals and kitchen residues, as well as sewage. Although these residues do not represent food for sharks, their smell attracts many fish, so the presence of a food smell in the water attracts straw fish and even excites them and puts them in a violent mood because they smell food in the absence of food. The presence of food commensurate with their sizes, but rather crumbs from the leftovers, and this leads to their intense excitement.

Fourth: Breaking the psychological barrier between sharks and divers:

With the increase in the value of sharks as a tourist product or as an attraction, the demand for diving with sharks has increased, and it was mainly dependent on divers merely watching sharks, but in recent years marketing methods for diving with sharks have diversified, on top of which is the implementation of training courses for divers in dealing with sharks. Sharks or to make diving more exciting by direct contact and attracting sharks to them, and this may be by using some baits, which we referred to previously as one of the most important reasons for shark attacks and harassment of divers in recent years. In addition, the attempt of divers to approach and attract sharks to them and touch them may have led to breaking the psychological barrier between sharks and divers. As a result of breaking such a psychological barrier, especially with oceanic type sharks, which are among the most curious types of sharks to approach and scout divers.

Some delegation raises an important question, which is that these practices may occur in different parts of the world. However, it should be noted here that the status of the Red Sea is a unique and sensitive environment and at the same time poor in terms of the ability of its waters to produce organic matter (primary production) and thus the lack of biomass of fish stocks, in addition to the exposure of this mass to overfishing operations that led to the scarcity of fish, which represent the main food for sharks All these factors made sharks more attracted to any type of food compared to other places in the world, where sharks find other natural sources of food due to its abundance in the waters of these areas such as South Africa, Hawaii, California waters, and others.

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