In the July issue of Undercurrent, you may have read the “Death of a Shark Diver, Redux” story. In the last part, Vanessa Richardson wrote about a French snorkeler in the Red Sea who bled to death from an oceanic whitetip’s bite. It most likely happened because two safari boats had been feeding sharks in the same area that day.
On that topic, here’s a letter I wrote to Amr Ali, head of the Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association.
Oceanic whitetip sharks have been following freighters through the Red Sea for a very long time. This is because all the galley waste is habitually thrown over the side, and ideal food for scavengers. The bigger liveaboards now commonly used for diving in Egyptian waters do a similar thing. Not only that but they leave scent trails, and these scent trails are usually left next to dive sites.
What am I talking about? Something I have regularly complained about over the years, and that is the common practice of emptying sewage tanks over dive sites. I know that Egyptian engineers don’t like going into the engine room while the boat is underway, as it is hot and very noisy. However, I have complained about them emptying the sewage while divers are in the water for the sake of the divers’ health.
Now we see a new dimension – the effect on scavenging sharks such as the oceanic whitetip. Until such times as there is regulation to stop this unhealthy habit of emptying the sewage tanks while vessels are stationary, these sharks will continue to be drawn in – and be disappointed by the lack of food.
Hungry sharks can be dangerous. Please do something about it.
If you echo my concerns, please send your own comments to Amr and the HEPCA team at firstname.lastname@example.org