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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Scuba diving sites closed in Sharm El Sheikh after shark attacks

WATERSPORTS bosses in Sharm El Sheikh have closed the beaches and suspended diving after four people were mauled by a shark.
A hunt is under way to track down a shark responsible for maiming the Russian tourists one of whom remains in a critical condition.
In the first attack on Tuesday a man's legs were torn by the shark and the woman sustained injuries to her legs and back and had to be resuscitated after rescue.
On Wednesday there was a further attack, believed to be by the same oceanic whitetip shark, on a woman snorkelling on Ras Nasrani north of the city's Na'ama Bay. Her arms were bitten off, and she was flown to Cairo for emergency treatment.
"We are monitoring the situation very closely and working together with all authorities to ensure the safety of all members and visitors in the Red Sea," said Hesham Gabr, chairman of Egypt's chamber of diving and watersports.
Diving instructor Hassan Salem said he was on a dive at the same time of the attack and was circled by the shark before it went for the couple.
"I was able to scare the shark away by blowing bubbles in its face, but then saw it swim to a woman and bite her legs," he said.
Mr Salem described how the water turned red with blood from the attack and he rushed to take the diver he was training out of the water.
Attacks by oceanic white tip sharks are extremely rare and shark attacks of any kind are very unusual in the Red Sea.
More so at this time of the year when the pelagics have left the northern part of the Red Sea by Sharm and moved further south. Whether this is a shark that has lost its way or been drawn in by other sources souch as illegal fishes remains to be seen.
Richard Peirce, chairman of the UK-based Shark Trust, told the Guardian: "Since records began in the late 16th century there have been only nine recorded attacks on humans by an oceanic whitetip.
"It's abnormal behaviour; this shark hasn't just decided to be in the wrong place at the wrong time – there must have been a specific activity or event that brought it there."
And before we get all gung-ho about killing sharks, let us remember they are apex predators whose own survival is under threat as that are being killed in great numbers mostly for their fins.

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