... after being implicated in three of the recent attacks on swimmers off Sharm El Sheikh in the end of November/beginning of December 2010. This unusual string of attacks on tourists off the South Sinai beaches raises obvious questions about the causes or triggers of this highly uncharacteristic behaviour.
It is a well known fact that humans have drastically changed the marine environment throughout the last decades. Habitat degradation, waste and sewage disposal, and destructive and unselective fishing methods have seriously affected all trophic levels of the marine ecosystem, including its top predators: sharks.
Another well-known fact is that we simply don't have enough information and data on any of the Red Sea shark species to competently decide on the degree of ecological and behavioural changes caused by these human activities.
The only answer is dedicated research.
One of the research projects under the HEPCA umbrella is the Longimanus-project.
Building on a population study on Carcharhinus longimanus that was initiated in fall 2004 by Dr. Elke Bojanowski, the Longimanus Project collects photo and video footage of Oceanic Whitetip Sharks, which is then used to identify individual sharks with the help of their natural markings. Provided we get the information on where (at which dive site) and when (on which day) the photographs/videos were taken, we are then able to follow these sharks’ movements.
The ability to follow individuals over time provides valuable insights into the sharks' movements, site fidelity, habitat use, behaviour, intra- and inter-specific associations, and reproductive parameters.
With the help of well over 500 contributors, the database currently includes close to 550 individual sharks and keeps growing with every passing season. Field work is carried out on the vessels of tour operator blue o two, where guests are able to contribute to the project as well as learn about shark biology, behaviour and conservation.
For more information on Oceanic Whitetip Sharks, the Longimanus Project, and how you can support us with your underwater images, please visit www.longimanus.info. If you are interested in other projects or information regarding Red Sea Sharks, please go to www.redseasharks.org.
Oceanic Whitetip Sharks in The Egyptian Red Sea
Specific description of the Longimanus-Project