Shark attack in the Red Sea: How dangerous are sharks?
Two holidaymakers have died recently after shark attacks in Egypt. What does this mean for our holidays?
Shark attacks are very rare, but there have been two recent fatalities in Egypt. Last Friday 1 July 2022 a female holidaymaker from Austria died after being attacked by a shark. The 68-year-old woman, who had been in Egypt for several weeks, was attacked by a shark in the Red Sea near Hurghada. Due to her severe injuries, she died of circulatory failure while still being transported to the hospital. Now it has become known that a second holidaymaker has also died after being attacked by a shark. The Romanian woman was probably attacked by the same shark. This incident is also believed to have happened last Friday.
The Egyptian authorities have currently closed the beach section at Sahl Hasheesh, about 20 kilometres from Hurghada airport. All activities in the sea, including swimming and snorkelling, have been banned. It is not yet known whether the Romanian holidaymaker had gone into the sea in a section that was already closed.
Sharks in the Red Sea
This raises the question of how dangerous it is to swim and dive in those places where sharks are suspected. In any case, shark attacks are not unusual in Egypt, and some are even fatal. In 2010, a German holidaymaker was killed by a shark, and there were also attacks on Ukrainian holidaymakers—one lost a leg, another an arm. In 2015, a German traveller died after a shark attack, and in 2018, a tourist from the Czech Republic. According to initial reports, the most recent attacks are likely to have been perpetrated by a mako shark, but there are also other species in the Red Sea such as oceanic whitetips, hammerheads and silky sharks. Experts have suspected since 2010 that illegal fishing or deliberately attracting sharks with food had led to these threatening situations.
9 fatal attacks in 2021
Shark attacks are extremely rare worldwide, considering the number of people who swim, dive, snorkel or do other sports in the sea. It is estimated that people worldwide spend 40 billion times a year in the ocean for these activities. In 2021, there were 73 attacks by sharks on humans worldwide, nine of which were fatal. This is fairly average for the past few years; five to ten people die in shark attacks every year. According to the »International Shark Attack File« from Florida, around 2,700 shark attacks have been recorded since 1958. According to the researchers who keep these statistics, human interventions in nature are often the main cause. In the early 1990s, for example, there were a strikingly large number of attacks in Recife, Brazil, when the animals had been forced into bathing areas after their habitat had been destroyed. According to some researchers, heavy shipping traffic or underwater drilling could also lead to an increase in attacks. The most dangerous regions for swimmers include New Smyrna Beach in Florida, Oahu (Hawaii), the Australian east coast near Brisbane, the coast of Gansbaai in South Africa and the above-mentioned Recife.
These animals are more dangerous than sharks
The shark is by far not one of the most dangerous animals in the world: according to estimates, snake bites kill around 100,000 people every year. Crocodiles also kill more than 1,000 people a year, hippos more than 500, and elephants around 100.