Last Update: 09 September 2012

Red Sea Sharks

The sharks of the Red Sea are the focus of a long-term research program launched by HEPCA to gather information on their population structure, ecology and behaviour for better future conservation measures.
You can directly contribute to this research by uploading your uw-images of Red Sea sharks (see link below) or report your shark sightings...
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Why Sharks?

Shark populations worldwide have been pushed to the brink of extinction within the last few decades. Millions die every year because of the insatiable human demand for shark fins, and the highly destructive, unselective fishing methods practised by the industry around the globe.

The sharks' disappearance is worrying on a number of levels. As top oceanic predators, they are of fundamental importance to the balance of the marine ecosystem. Removing them on a large scale has severe consequences through succeeding layers of the marine food web. It has altered other species' abundance, distribution and diversity, and impacted the health of a variety of marine habitats, including sea grass beds and coral reefs. A recovery from depletion is hard to accomplish, since most of the larger shark species have a very low reproductive potential; they take years to reach sexual maturity and produce very few young.

Besides ecological considerations, the high economic value of living sharks is being recognized by more and more countries. Shark diving is a growing industry; the interest in encountering sharks under water creates far more revenue than the one-time profit to be gained from killing them.

All these factors have researchers and conservationist campaigning to convince law makers and governmental bodies to finally step up and include more shark species in their protection schemes. Their efforts are hampered by the lack of available information on basic population parameters and life history patterns of many of the depleted shark species, which are necessary to create and implement effective conservation programs.

 

Why Red Sea Sharks?

Similar problems apply to the numerous shark species living in the Red Sea (read more...). Fishing pressure has (and has had) an impact of unknown magnitude, and – despite local or regional regulations - no protective legislation for the area as a whole exists. And while the sharks' economic value, especially for the Egyptian tourism sector, is undisputed, scientific data is scarce; information on population status and ecological needs are insufficient or don't exist at all.

To rectify that situation, the Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA, www.hepca.com) is launching a comprehensive research project on Red Sea Sharks, using such diverse methods as a volunteer monitoring program, photo-identification, electronic tracking, and dedicated surveys.

Overall aim is to collect data on species distribution, residency and migration patterns, to identify critical habitats for feeding, mating and giving birth. It is this kind of information that will be crucial for designing and managing effective protection measures.

 

Shark Monitoring Program for the Red Sea...

The diving professionals in the Red Sea will be called upon in the future to help monitoring the shark populations in the Egyptian Red Sea. Their experience and ongoing daily activities in the water make them perfect volunteers, who can provide us with a wealth of information. read more...

 

Shark Photo-Identification...

The widespread usage of digital underwater cameras offers great opportunities to employ photo-identificaton methods to follow individual sharks of different species. At least four shark species have suitable natural markings to allow for individual identification. read more.... To directly upload underwater images of Red Sea sharks (especially Oceanic whitetip, Silky and Grey reef sharks) please click here...

 

The Longimanus Project...

One species has already proven to be highly accessible to photo-identification techniques. Over the past 6 years, more than 20.000 underwater photographs of Oceanic Whitetip Sharks (Carcharhinus longimanus) have been analysed to create a catalogue that contains more than 500 individuals. read more...

 

Search Our Red Sea Sharks Database...

Originally only available for Oceanic Whitetip Sharks, the Red Sea Sharks Database now contains individual sighting information of Silky Sharks and Grey Reef Sharks as well! Any individual shark that was identified from underwater images of anybody who shared their pictures with us, can be followed up on, including additional sighting dates and places and fin markings. Just click here... and follow the instructions on the screen.

 

Electronic Tracking of Sharks...

Latest satellite technology allows us to follow and track marine animals, even those that remain constantly submerged. In a pilot study for the Red Sea, pop-up archival tags will be used to tag Oceanic Whitetip Sharks to gather more detailed information on their habitat use, diving behaviour and movement patterns. read more...

 

Further information and details on the Red Sea Shark Project can be found at www.redseasharks.org.