Egypt conducts major study on shark behaviour in Red Sea to reduce fatal encounters

Ahram Online , Wednesday 21 Jun 2023

The Ministry of Environment has contracted an international marine life expert to conduct an in-depth study of movement and behavioural patterns of sharks on the coasts of the Red Sea in order to reduce fatal encounters between swimmers and the fish as well as preserve environmental balance in the habitat.

Tiger shark. AFP
Tiger shark. AFP


The first-of-its-kind study would focus on three types of sharks which were involved in fatal or near fatal incidents with humans in the Red Sea in recent years, according to a statement released by the ministry on Wednesday.

The environment ministry announcement of studying shark behaviour along the 1,500-kilometres-long coast comes two weeks after a Russian national was killed in a Tiger shark attack - a rare one - in the waters near the popular tourist city of Hurghada.

The study will be conducted in three stages over a period of 18 months using latest scientific tools.

The first stage comprises collecting and analyzing data on previous incidents of shark attack.

In the second stage, workers in nature preserves will be trained on installing sensors to monitor and collect data on shark movement.

Finally, the third stage will focus on analyzing all data collected to better understand shark movement and behavioural patterns.

Sensing dangers

The environment ministry said in its statement that installing these sensors would help authorities understand various types and sizes of sharks in the Red Sea in order to implement safeguards for their health and safety as a species.

Sensors would help the authorities take pre-emptive measures against overfishing in order to preserve environmental balance as well as reduce incidents of shark attacks on humans, added the statement.

Rare, but deadly

A report issued in 2022 on shark attacks, which was jointly issued by specialists on Red Sea protectorates and Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association, cautioned the public and authorities that shark attacks usually take place during their mating and egg-laying season, which runs from mid-April to the end of July.

The deadly encounter between the shark and the Russian national earlier this month was the latest in a string of rare fatal encounters between the fish and humans in recent years.

In July 2022, two women lost their lives in a shark attack off the coast of Hurghada.

A Ukrainian boy lost an arm and an Egyptian tour guide lost a leg to shark attacks in 2020.

In 2018, a shark killed a Czech tourist off another Red Sea beach.

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