A German woman has been killed in a
shark attack while snorkelling off the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm
el-Sheikh, officials say.
The death comes after four people were
injured in similar attacks at the resort earlier in the week.
Egyptian authorities had re-opened the
waters after saying they captured the sharks involved in the earlier attacks.
Officials say they are baffled by the
repeated attacks and are consulting marine biologists.
There are fears about the impact of the
shark attacks on the tourism trade in one of the world’s most popular diving
Egyptian officials said the elderly
German woman had died immediately after the attack, in which she was reportedly
bitten on the thigh and arm.
After last week’s attacks – in which
three Russians and a Ukrainian were injured – Egypt’s environment ministry
caught and killed two sharks, and displayed a photo of them, an Oceanic White
Nearby beaches were reopened after
authorities deemed there was no further threat.
But divers and conservationists who
compared the picture with one of the attack shark, taken shortly before one of
the previous attacks, said it was not the same individual.
Now all the resort’s beaches had been
closed again for watersports, with the exception of Ras Mohammed, a nature
preserve south of the city, Egypt’s Tourism Minister Zuhair Garana told AFP
“We are getting marine biologists
from abroad to assess the situation and why there was this change in biological
nature,” he said, referring to the repeated nature of the attacks, which
some experts say is unusual.
“This is unnatural. It has never
happened before,” he said. “We have no explanation.”
Shark experts and local observers have
offered a number of possible explanations for the attacks. Some say overfishing
in the Red Sea may have driven sharks closer to shore.
Meanwhile, some said predatory sharks
could have been drawn to the area after a ship carrying Australian sheep and
cattle for sacrifice during last month’s Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha dumped
the carcasses of animals which had died dying during the voyage.
Diving instructor Peers Cawley, who has
lived in Sharm al-Sheikh for seven years, told the BBC that sharks were not
normally seen at this time of year.
“We may see them in the summer
months. This is a rare occurrence – there have been more sightings last week
than in recent years,” he said.
“A couple of weeks ago an
Australian cargo ship dumped dead sheep that washed up around the shores. The
authorities are trying to clamp down on this. Whether there’s a link or not we
“The other issue that is a concern
is illegal fishing. Sharm el-Sheikh has a national park, but some Bedouin may
illegally fish tuna etc, to sell. So there may not be enough prey for the
sharks to catch.
“The worry is that if there is not
enough fish, then the sharks would look for alternative food.”