Text : Dray van Beeck and HEPCA newsletter
Photos : Dray van Beeck
There is a new hype in the Egyptian Red Sea; tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) diving. Since the second week of July, a huge pregnant female and two smaller male tiger sharks have been seen at Elphinstone reef on an almost daily basis. Where before the Oceanic white tip sharks (Carcharhinus longimanus) have caught everyone’s attention, it is now the tigers that are stealing the show.
Tiger sharks are rarely seen in the Red Sea. Most sightings are from the area around Sharm el Sheikh in summertime. In the rest of the Egyptian Red Sea sightings are very rare and diving with these graceful sharks is something that not many divers ever have a chance to experience.
HEPCA (Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association) brought out a newsletter concerning diving with tiger sharks. In it they state that this species is second only to the Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) in the number of reported shark attacks worldwide. Despite this fact, a Tiger Shark is not a dangerous animal per se. However, they should be treated with caution and respect and HEPCA advises the following behavioral rules:
Calm and controlled behavior from the human side is the key to an enjoyable and truly impressive encounter. As a predator, a shark will react with interest to erratic or hectic movements, as well as to rapid ascents (especially directly above it).
Stay alert and keep looking around you, so that they don’t have the chance to sneak up on you or startle you. Staying next to the reef helps you keep an overview and limit the open areas around you.
If you are circled by any shark, stay in a vertical position; calmly turn around with it, and keep it in sight at all times. This shark is not getting ready to attack you; it only makes use of the pressure sensors along its sides to figure out what you are.
Keep in mind that a group of people is less likely to be closely approached than single divers.
If you are not sure that you can manage to stay calm when meeting a Tiger Shark – or any other large predatory shark - under water, do not expose yourself and others in your company to such an encounter!
It is generally people that are creating dangerous situations with sharks...