What lured deep-ocean sharks into Sharm el-Sheikh?


As scientists identify at least two sharks responsible for the recent attacks in Sharm el-Sheikh, there is growing speculation that a combination of overfishing, the illegal practice of baiting sharks with meat and the disposal of sheep carcasses over the side of a boat, may have been enough to lure the sharks into shallower waters.

American scientists have identified at least two sharks responsible for a series of attacks in the Egyptian holiday resort Sharm el-Sheikh. The scientists were flown in after Egyptian authorities came under fire for unnecessarily killing a number of sharks that were not involved in the attacks.

They are also examining possible causes for these attacks, which have all occurred within a three-mile stretch of shore and at similar times.

After spending a day questioning witnesses and analysing data and photographs, the scientists said they had concluded that the same oceanic Whitetip shark was responsible for both the first attack, on a Russian tourist, and the death on Sunday of a 70-year-old German tourist.

George Burgess, the Florida-based director of the International Shark Attack File is quoted: "We have been able to conclude that the first attack and the fifth attack were both perpetrated by a single oceanic Whitetip and that attacks three and four were carried out by a Mako (shark), maybe also a single individual."

The scientists believe that between two and four individual sharks were involved.

Among the suggested reasons for the attacks are changes in underwater ecology such as long-term overfishing in the area and the illegal practice of baiting the sharks with meat. Scientists on the team said they had heard reports of tour guides throwing chickens overboard to attract the sharks.

In addition, a number of sheep carcasses were disposed of over the side of a boat bound for the Jordanian port of Aqaba, last month.

Conservation organisations are urging people to take this as a wake-up call that the ecological protection of the Red Sea is insufficient.

Egyptian officials meanwhile are using it for Amity Island style publicity stunts, jumping into the water to prove it is safe, or political motivations accusing Mossad for being behind the attacks.