File photo: A general view showing a partially empty beach at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheik, Egypt. AP
According to an eight-page report issued by the committee, a single tiger shark was behind the two attacks – which involved a tourist from Austria and one from Romania on 1 July 2022 – judging by the bite marks on the victims, who were snorkelling at the time of the attacks.
Earlier this month, AP reported that a 68-year-old Austrian woman died in Hurghada’s Nile Hospital on Friday due to injuries from the attack, quoting a health official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The news agency did not mention a second victim, as her body had not been discovered at the time.
According to the committee, the body of the Romanian tourist floated to the beach the next day while the committee members were investigating the first incident. The committee said that the Romanian tourist was attacked before the Austrian tourist in the gulf of Sahl Hashish.
The committee attributed the attacks to the shark’s presence in shallow waters given that it is mating and egg laying season, which is from mid-April to the end of July. The committee added that the reason behind the attack was likely food.
Red Sea Governor Amr Hanafy has barred all water activities in the area of the attacks, with no mention of when they will be allowed to resume.
Shark attacks have been relatively rare in Egypt’s Red Sea coastal region in recent years. In 2020, a young Ukrainian boy lost an arm and an Egyptian tour guide a leg in a shark attack.
In 2018, a shark killed a Czech tourist off a Red Sea beach. A similar attack killed a German tourist in 2015. In 2010, shark attacks killed a European tourist and maimed several others off Sharm El-Sheikh in the Sinai Peninsula, across the Red Sea from Hurghada.
In its report, the committee formed by the environment ministry to determine the reasons behind the recent attack listed a number of reasons for shark attacks in the Red Sea.
Overfishing in the Red Sea, the overuse of diving and snorkelling sites, and humans feeding fish contribute to the shark attacks, as the animals search for new places for food, leading them to the coasts and shallow areas.
The committee presented a list of recommendations to be implemented in the short and long terms.
In the short term, the committee recommended monitoring the area where the attacks took place, immediately ceasing recreational fishing, and allowing snorkelling activities only under the supervision of licensed guides.
For the long term, the committee recommends implementing a comprehensive program to manage diving and snorkelling areas to preserve the lives of divers and safeguard marine life.
The committee also recommended regulating fishing in the Red Sea, including suspending commercial and recreational fishing from mid-April till the end of July.