Egypt Independent

American expert employed in search for cause of shark attacks

The employment of an American expert specialized in shark attacks will contribute nothing to the Egyptian scientific team’s reports, said Moustafa Fouda, Minister Advisor for Environmental Affairs and Nature Conservation. Fouda heads the Egyptian team trying to determine causes behind recent shark attacks on tourists in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm al-Sheikh.

The advisor asserted the rarity of shark attack expertise with no more than 5 specializations in the field worldwide. The specialization does not exist in Egypt given the infrequency of such incidents, he said.

According to Fouda, more than 460 different species of sharks exist worldwide, with 33 of them living in the Red Sea, 18 of which live near Egyptian beaches.

Fouda added that there was only one shark attack during the past 5 years in which a child was killed, whereas the total number of recorded shark attacks worldwide stands at 2720, most of which took place near US beaches.

Regarding the possible reasons behind the recent attacks, Fouda said, “We have a number of possibilities for the recurrent attacks, one of which is that one of the divers fed the shark.” He explained that the shark “returned to same place the next day looking for more food,” which he found in the form of human flesh.

Fouda cited the sharks’ mating period as another possible cause. “Whereas most male sharks search for females in deeper waters, sometimes their search leads them near beaches, explaining the latest attack on a German tourist.”

He also noted shark stimulation by the smell of blood. He recalled that after the shark wounded the German woman, it attacked her again and ate parts of her body.

When asked why the team had failed to reach conclusions regarding the attacks, Fouda argued that more time was needed “in order to prevent past mistakes from recurring.”

Marine biologist Mahmoud Hanafi blamed the media for exaggerating the incidents, saying the attacks were “coincidental” and there was “no need for all this panic.” He went on to say that such incidents should be dealt with using a scientific approach.

Meanwhile, owners of diving centers in the region requested the reduction of their rents, citing a reduced number of visitors to the area.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.