Monday, 6 December 2010


After several shark attacks last week, Egypt’s tourist minister reported that the waters around tourist hotspot Sharm-el-Sheik were safe – shockingly, the mauled body of a 70year old tourist proved the claims to be untrue...

Following the attacks of three Russian and one Ukrainian tourist, Egyptian officials assured holiday makers that the ‘killer sharks’ had been caught and that the Red Sea waters surrounding Sharm-el-Sheik were once again safe. However, just days later a 70-year-old German female was found with her limbs torn off and four other tourists suffered fatalities.

Sharm-el-Sheik is one of Egypt’s most popular tourist spots and is a magnet for Britons seeking the winter sun. Famed for its world-class scuba diving, as well as being a mecca for many other watersports enthusiats, including windsurfers, kitesurfers and sailors, the sea is often the main, if not the sole attraction for many visitors.

Marine experts have commented that the attacks are very unusual and that the area has not reported signs of sharks for around 15 years. Several theories have been put forward, to explain this abnormal behaviour:

1. Overfishing in the region has brought the sharks closer to shore to feed.

2. Cattle and sheep imported from Australia that die during the journey to Egypt are thrown overboard, attracting the sharks – made more prolific with the approach of the Islamic feast of Eid al-Adha.

3. Dive operators have been criticised for chumming the waters to encourage sharks for paying tourists, encouraging an association between humans and food.

Egypt is hugely dependent on tourism and Sharm-el-Sheik alone attracts over four millions holiday makers each, so bad press is certainly not welcome. But officials have been accused of playing down the dangers and putting the lives of their guests at risk. Authorities have been criticised of being too slow in reacting to the danger and for not informing holiday makers of the dangers. It was claimed that, just hours after the first attacks, tourists were pictured enjoying the waters once more.

Tourism minister Zuhair Garana insists that further investigation is underway, but that there is no need to disallow scuba diving, as “We are advised that sharks will not attack divers”, adding that “I cannot say that deep waters are completely secure but shallow waters are 100 per cent secure”.

However, British travel operators are following warnings given by the Foreign Office, and have taken the authority to cancel all boat and dive excursions. Thomson and First Choice have also advised holidaymakers to stay out of the water altogether.

Whilst both an oceanic white-tip and a mako shark have already been caught, it seems that the real monster is still out there…

Read the full article at the Mail Online

This article was also published by Responsible Travel News

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