Are There Sharks In Egypt: Info & Safety Tips

Are there sharks in Egypt? What can we do to stay safe?

With its breathtaking beaches, vibrant coral reefs, and abundant marine life, Egypt has long been a sought-after destination for sun-seekers and adventure enthusiasts. Despite the beauty of this coastal haven, one question lingers in the minds of many: Are there sharks in Egypt?

Hearing news about attacks of sharks on humans during their beach holidays, while swimming, or snorkeling makes people concerned about how dangerous the Red Sea waters in Egypt are.

So let’s have a look into the diverse marine ecosystem, what types of sharks can be found in Egyptian waters, and how to stay safe.

Are There Sharks In Egypt? Exploring The Myth And Reality.

Yes, there are sharks in Egypt as well as many other aquatic species. Whether you’re planning a diving expedition or simply curious about the marine life in Egypt, particularly sharks, you will learn important information about Marine life and shark species in Egypt.

Egypt’s Coastal Charm and Diverse Marine Life

Egypt is one of the most popular holiday destinations. Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh, Marsa Alam, and Dahab are known for their crystal clear waters, sandy beaches, and incredible diving and snorkeling opportunities.

Egypt’s Red Sea’s warm and clear waters are home to incredibly colorful coral reefs with many types of fish, some endemic. This makes the Red Sea one of the world’s best destinations for diving and snorkeling.

Hurghada beach

What kind of aquatic animals can be found under the waters of the Red Sea? One of them is sharks. Precisely there are 44 species of sharks living in the Red Sea but most of them are rarely seen by scuba divers.

There are also dolphins, rays, Napoleon Wrasse, Giant Moray, Lionfish, Stonefish, Clownfish, turtles, and many more. Egypt’s marine ecosystem promises an unforgettable experience that will leave you in awe of the magic that lies beneath the waves.

Moreover, passionate divers can find some nice pieces of shipwrecks under the waters of the Red Sea.

Common Shark Species in Egypt

As mentioned above, there are 44 species of sharks in Egypt. I will introduce you to the main types of sharks found in Egypt and how dangerous they are.

1. Grey Reef Shark is the most common shark in Egypt’s Red Sea. They can be found exploring reefs in not very deep waters. They are highly aggressive but attack only when they feel in danger. Grey Reef Sharks have white-tipped dorsals, black-edged tails, and dark-tipped fins. Their length is about 2 meters.

2. Whitetip Reef Sharks are the most common with the Grey Reef Shark. They can also be found in not very deep waters, up to 40 meters deep. During the day they sleep in the caves and go hunting at night. They are moderately aggressive. They can grow up to 1.5 meters and can be recognized by the white tips on their dorsal.

3. Hammerhead Sharks are easily identifiable by the shape of their heads. These predators are on a hunt early in the morning and are not easily found by divers. Therefore as a swimmer, you will hardly encounter them. When they are provoked, they will attack.

4. Tiger Sharks are the rarest, however, the most dangerous species of all sharks in Egypt. They spend their time in the open ocean and divers need a bit of luck to see them. Despite of that this type of shark is responsible for the latest attack and death in Hurghada Beach. We will talk about the reason in the paragraph below.

After the Great White Sharks, these sharks are the second ones responsible for attacks on humans. These sharks are also bigger than the other sharks and can grow to up to 5 meters and weigh up to a ton. They can be recognized by the dark stripes on their backs and white undersides.

Whale Shark

5. Whale Sharks are probably the only not dangerous sharks to humans. They are the largest of all sharks and one of the largest fish species. You can recognize them by the flattened heads and white spots on their grey body.

They can be seen on the surface eating their favorite food, plankton. Where and when it is unknown.

6. Thresher sharks are deepwater sharks, therefore you will not encounter one unless you are doing a deep dive. They have big eyes and long whip-like tails. These sharks are sensitive to light and noise.

7. Oceanic Whitetip Sharks are similar to Reef Whitetip Sharks, but they are longer. These sharks are solitary species and could be highly aggressive. You can recognize them by the long rounded white-tipped dorsal and pectoral fins. They can grow up to 4 meters.

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    Realistic Threats and Safety Tips

    While there are thousands of people swimming, snorkeling, or diving in the oceans all over the world every day, there have been only a few cases of attacks by sharks per year.

    In Egypt, there were few shark attacks on humans while swimming, snorkeling, and diving. The latest one happened recently in June 2023, two attacks in 2022, one in 2020, one in 2018, one in 2015, and 5 in 2010.

    The sharks that were behind the attacks were Tiger Sharks and Oceanic Whitetip Sharks. The types of sharks are not known for all attacks.

    The question is what made the sharks come closer to the shore in some cases and what made the sharks attack the humans or even eat them. It is well known that sharks don’t like human meat.

    A couple swimming with sharks

    The experts believe there are a few reasons and all of them have to do with humans conquering nature:

    • Humans take away food from sharks’ natural environment, which makes them come to search for food from deep sea closer to the shore
    • Throwing food or dead animals from the boats or the hotel resorts attracts the sharks
    • Global warming changing the behavior of the sharks
    • In the latest case, the shark was so aggressive because it was a female shark that came closer to the shore to lay her eggs there,  so she was protecting her babies, plus she was hungry and wounded. Between April and June, sharks come to more shallow waters to lay eggs.

    Despite the several attacks of sharks on humans holidaying and swimming in Egypt is still safe. There are a few safety tips from experts to be followed while swimming in the sea.

    • First of all, if you are swimming, stay close to the beach where you can still reach the ground when standing up. Sharks usually don’t come that close.
    • In case the shark comes close, try to stay calm and don’t panic. Sharks are very sensitive to vibrations and they will feel your heartbeat and fear. This way you are an easy target.
    • Stay in a vertical position and observe the shark. Do not make chaotic movements with your legs and arms or don’t try to swim fast away from the shark. You have no chance as his speed can be up to 70km/h.
    • If it happens that the shark attacks you, the only way is to fight back. The sensitive areas of sharks are their snout, eyes, and gills. Hurting these places may push him back.

    The government of Egypt is planning to put strong nets around holiday resort beaches to prevent sharks from coming close to the shore.

    Diving with sharks

    Diving in Egypt: Safety and Precautions

    When you are planning to go diving and interact with sharks in Egypt or any other country, there are safety briefings in each diving center.

    The instructors will inform you how you should behave around sharks, what to do and not to do, and how to react when sharks become suddenly aggressive.

    Here are some do’s and don’t when interacting with sharks:

    Keep visual contact. Meaning, don’t swim in front of the shark.
    You should always have a visual of a shark
    Don’t chase a shark
    Stay calm and avoid erratic movementsDon’t swim backward
    Stay in a groupIn any case, do not panic
    If possible, swim above the shark, not below him
    Keep a safe distance from the shark
    Keep a vertical position
    Avoid surface. Sharks are more likely to attack swimmers or surfers. You are more vulnerable on the surface than inside the water. If you have to go to the surface, do it close to a boat or reef and as a group

    If the shark attacks you, the only way is to fight back. As mentioned above, the most sensitive areas of sharks are their snout, eyes, and gills.

    Conclusion: Are there sharks in Egypt?

    While sharks do inhabit Egyptian waters, they are an integral part of a diverse and thriving marine ecosystem that captures the imagination of divers and nature enthusiasts.

    Whether you’re planning your next diving adventure or a beach holiday, it is important to follow all the rules and safety measures. Explore the depths, marvel at the vibrant marine life, and stay safe.

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