On this page you will find links to youtube videos about Red Sea sharks (right hand side) and answers to some commonly asked questions about sharks below.
HOW DANGEROUS ARE THEY ?
Hundreds of thousands of tourists come to Marsa Alam every year, many of them diving or snorkeling in areas where sharks are common, but as far as I'm aware there has only ever been one fatal attack.
A french woman was killed by a shark while diving at a remote site off the Marsa Alam coastline in the summer of 2009. However it is thought that she may have aggravated the shark by offering it food which would have changed the shark's behaviour.
Elsewhere off Egypt's Red Sea coast attacks have also been rare. A man was killed whilst snorkeling off Sharm El Sheikh in 2004 and there was a brief but extremely unsual series of attacks on swimmers off Sharm El Sheikh late in 2010.
On 30 November, a 48 year old woman had her foot and arm bitten by an oceanic white tip shark while snorkeling at Coral Bay. 15 minutes later a 70 year old woman snorkeling nearby had her foot and right forearm severed. The next morning two men were attacked and badly injured off Ras Nasrani. And finally on 5 December, a 70 year old woman was killed by an oceanic white tip also while snorkeling in the Sharm El Sheikh area.
There was huge media attention following the series of attacks. Some Egyptians even chose to blame them on an Israeli plot to destroy the country's tourist industry - something for which there is absolutely no factual basis. More serious analysts speculated that the more likely cause could have been the dumping of dead sheep into the sea by cargo ships or shark feeding by divers.
Despite this extremely unusual episode, as of June 2012, we only know of three fatalaties off the Egyptian coast as a consequence of shark attacks during the last ten years. Of the 368 species of shark worldwide only 20 represent any danger to humans. And statistically shark attacks are very rare. You are more likely to be killed by falling out of bed or by a toaster. Annually over one million people are killed in car accidents every year, but worldwide fatalities from shark attacks average just five a year. The risk of being struck by lightning is ten times greater.
BUT HOW SHOULD I MINIMIZE THE RISK OF BEING ATTACKED ?
1. Try to avoid diving at dawn or dusk when sharks are at their most active.
2. Avoid murky poor visibility sea water where a shark is most likely to mistake you for its' normal prey.
3. Try to keep in a group as sharks are more likely to attack an individual diver.
4. If you see a shark stay calm, don't make sudden movements and keep an eye on it.
5. If you are too scared then swim slowly and calmly towards the dive boat or shoreline.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON TYPES OF SHARK SPECIES IN THE RED SEA ?
Well "common" is an exaggeration as many Red Sea shark populations are in decline and endangered but if you are lucky enough to see a shark, the relatively more numerous Red Sea species include oceanic whitetip, scalloped hammerhead, silkly shark, silvertip shark, tiger shark, whale shark, whitetip reef shark, zebra shark and grey reef shark.
From the table below you can see that even the most populous shark species in the Red Sea are considered to be at serious risk. A status of near threatened means the species is likely to become endangered in the near future. A status of vulnerable means a very high risk of endangerment in the near future while endangered means a species is at a high risk of extinction in the wild.
| Shark Type
|| 2.0 m
||near coral reefs
|islands and coral reefs
|near coral reefs
||coral reefs & deep water
|crevices or caves
||sandy areas near reefs.
HOW FAST CAN A SHARK SWIM ?
The Mako shark is the fastest and can reach speeds of up to 45mph.
WHICH ARE THE MOST DANGEROUS SPECIES ?
Only ten species present any significant danger to humans and of them in the Red Sea the most dangerous are probably the Mako, Tiger and Oceanic Whitetip.
HOW LONG DO THEY LIVE ?
Most live to between twenty and thirty years though the giant whale sharks which can be found off Marsa Alam can live up to 100 years.
HOW INTELLIGENT ARE SHARKS ?
They have a similar brain to body mass as many mammals and birds and frequently exhibits signs of social, playful and highly inquisitive behaviour. Some species even appear to work as a team when hunting.
I WANT TO GO DIVING OFF MARSA ALAM.
WHO SHOULD I CONTACT ?