Page update - Jun 13, 2023
Is the danger of sharks real for tourists in Egypt? What are the most dangerous species found in the Red Sea? How to minimize chances of becoming a victim? Read the answers and the attacks descriptions over the past decade.
Information on this page was updated in June 2023.
On 8 June 2023, the worst case of an attack in recent memory occurred. Vladimir Popov (23) from Russia died. The location of the attack was the beach of the Dream Beach Hotel in Hurghada.
First, it was a Tiger Shark - the second largest in the world (after the Great White). This is the only Tiger Shark attack in Egypt in decades.
Secondly, the attack took place a dozen meters from the pier, not on the reef as is usual.
Thirdly, it was finishing off its prey. Usually Mako or Whitetip (these two species attack tourists in Egypt) do not finish the victim, and bite and swim away, and then the victim either swims out or not. There it was a Tiger Shark that finished off the prey.
Fourthly, the attack took place in Hurghada, on a beach within the city, which has never happened before.
The danger is very real. According to statistics, Egypt ranks 12th in the world in the number of shark attacks on people.
However, the chance for a tourist to become a victim of the attack is very minor. Over the past 13 years, about 124 million tourists have visited Egypt. There have been 16 attacks, of which 6 were fatal.
That is, the chance of becoming a victim of the attack is 0.0000129%, the probability of being killed by shark teeth is 0.00000483%.
This danger in Egypt is far from being the greatest. For comparison, 20 tourists have suffered from terrorist attacks in the last 12 years, of which 6 were killed. And that's without counting the 224 deaths on Metrojet Flight 9268 in 2015. You could say that terrorists in Egypt are more dangerous than sharks.
And the number of tourists who have died in car accidents in the last 10 years is over a hundred. Therefore, the chances of dying in a taxi in Egypt are many times greater than from shark's teeth.
Just to give you an example! This page was updated on June 13, 2023. Open Google and search for the latest accident victims. And so, on July 28, 2022, 2 tourists from Israel died in an accident in Sinai. And the deadliest accident in Egypt in year 2022 happened in January, when 16 tourists died in a minibus!
Conclusions! In Egypt, be more afraid of cars than sharks.
If you are afraid of sharks, then read ways to minimize your risk:
Tip 1. Don't swim to the reefs or far out to sea. Statistics show that sharks do not attack in shallow water. There have only been two cases of the attack near the shore. The other cases have happened to divers on the reefs or swimmers away from shore.
Tip 2. Lose weight. This advice seems funny, but that's exactly what ocean scientists advise. Sharks' natural prey are pinnipeds (sea lions, seals, walruses). Shark receptors are tuned to their fat, not their meat. When a shark bites, if it feels the fat, it continues the attack. If it doesn't feel the fat, it usually lets the victim go.
Tip 3. Study the cases of attacks and draw conclusions. Below we have compiled descriptions of all attacks in Egyptian waters over the past 12 years. Read on and you can draw your own conclusions.
The Red Sea is warm, with rich flora and fauna. Not surprisingly, almost all species of sharks are found there. There is no point in enumerating them. We will tell only about the most famous or the most dangerous.
The Great White shark in the Red Sea is very rare, because it likes the open ocean. See the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge to full screen.
The Tiger shark is found in the Red Sea, but does not usually appear off the coast. Click here to see its photo.
The Bull shark is also found in the Red Sea, but rarely. And this is good news, because it is considered the most curious and aggressive. Click here to see its photo.
The Mako shark is found very often. This species is thought to be responsible for half of all attacks on humans. Click here to see its photo.
Mako can jump out of the water to a height of 16 feet (5 meters), and there have even been cases where the mako jumped to the deck of the ship. We wrote about such a recent case in the review "Sharks in the Arab Emirates".
The Whitetip shark is also common. They prefer the open sea and rarely approach the shore. However, it is in Egypt that Whitetip sharks behave unusually and attack swimmers on the reefs. Click here to see its photo.
According to the terms of travel insurance, any such cases are not insured because they fall under the article "Careless handling of marine animals".
In fact, insurance companies pay for the medical treatment so as not to get negative press about themselves. After all, victims of attacks (those who have survived them) give interviews, and can be very unflattering about the insurance company.
The Egyptian government also pays for the medical treatment. Of course, the government is interested in decreasing the deaths first of all.
If there is a fatal outcome, the case becomes clearly insured, and the insurance company is obliged to send the tourist's body to home country.
The first attack took place on July 1, 2022, at the resort of Sahl Hasheesh, 15 miles (25 kilometers) to the south from Hurghada. The victim was an Austrian national, Elisabeth Sauer, 68, originally from Tyrol, but living in Egypt with her new Egyptian husband for the past five years.
Elisabeth Sauer was swimming close to the hotel pier when she was attacked. The bites came to her leg and arm. Elisabeth was taken to Nile Hospital in Hurghada still alive, but in the end doctors were unable to save her.
A video showing the moment of the attack, taken from a nearby pier, was circulating on the Internet. This video identified the species of predator, it was a mako shark. We watched the video, but there is no shark on it or there is one, but it is not clearly visible. Who and how identified the shark species? It's a mystery.
The second attack happened on July 3, 2022, just 1600-2000 feet (500-600 meters) away from the first one. The victim was a Romanian female citizen, between 40 and 50 years old. There are no more details, as no one saw the moment of the attack, and the beach lifeguards found the already dead body.
It took several days from the time of death to the time the body was detected, and it is likely that it was the same shark. It is likely that this case also occurred on July 1. But there is no exact information about the results of the autopsy and examination.
The Romanian Foreign Ministry said it will identify the body, find the family of the deceased, and repatriate the body to the homeland. They didn't give any more information. Of course, they have all the information, as her hotel guide reported to the Romanian Embassy about the tourist's death. He knew exactly her name and where she was from. But they do not want to disclose the information. The Egyptian authorities are also silent.
There were two interesting cases in 2021. However, the first one is unconfirmed. And the second was not in Egypt, but very-very close. But both cases are interesting, so we will tell you.
September 10, 2021 a lifeguard was injured at a Mediterranean resort in Egypt. Which is strange by the way, because in Egypt sharks attack in the Red Sea, but not in the Mediterranean Sea. According to the claims of the injured lifeguard (name withheld), he was attacked by a shark. Authorities promptly investigated the incident. The medical team concluded that the injury was caused by a sharp metal object.
Where is the truth? It's unclear. Therefore, the case is considered unconfirmed.
On June 30, 2021, a shark attacked a paraglider, which is already an extraordinary case. Two paraglider riders were flying in tandem, and when they descended to the water, the shark bit one of them, a Jordanian man of 37. The man lost the back of his foot.
The incident happened on the Red Sea, at the city of Aqaba, Jordan. It's only 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the Egyptian city of Taba. You could say it was almost Egypt.
Two Ukrainian tourists, a mother and a child, were injured. The press did not release the names of the victims. The tourists were swimming on the reefs in Ras Mohammed National Park near Sharm El Sheikh.
They were attacked by an "oceanic whitetip shark", also known as a "long-winged" shark. The species of shark was identified by a special government commission. These sharks are small - up to 6.5 feet (2 meters) in length, up to 130 pounds (60 kilograms) in weight. Had it been a mako, things would have ended much sadder.
The child was severely injured and later doctors in the hospital amputated his(her) hand above the elbow. The mother received deep bites. The shark also bit the guide with whom they had sailed to Ras Mohammed. Fortunately, everyone survived.
Unfortunately, the attack ended with death. The case is scary, so the faint-hearted are advised to skip it.
A tourist from the Czech Republic, Petr D. (last name withheld from the press, 42 years old) had gone on vacation with his family in Egypt to Marsa Alam at the Calimera Habiba Beach Resort, which is 15 miles (25 kilometers) north of the city of Marsa Alam, 160 miles (260 kilometers) south of Hurghada.
This hotel has a pier about 650 feet (200 meters) long that leads to deep waters. On the morning of August 3, 2018, Petr, his wife and daughter of 9 years went swimming on this pier. Peter jumped into the water and swam toward the open sea. After a while he turned around and swam quickly back to the pier, but it was too late. A dark silhouette approached him and the water turned red.
Peter died in front of his wife and young daughter. The shark did not appear on the surface, and it is not possible to determine its species. A lifeguard was on duty on the pier, but could not see the threat in time and there was nothing he could do to help Petr.
The species of the attacking shark could not be determined. Most likely it was a mako. You can see what it looks like in the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge it.
Christine Schachinger (20 years old), an Austrian woman, was snorkeling on a reef near Marsa Alam. She was attacked by a shark and only got an injured leg. The beaches of Marsa Alam were closed for 48 hours.
The incident was hardly covered by the world media. However, all the media in Ukraine were happy to write about it. There was information that Christine was saved by a Ukrainian diver who happened to be nearby.
The attack took place near the resort city of Ain Sokhna, near the Suez Canal. This resort is not famous, see our page "Map of Egyptian resorts" to learn its location.
A group of friends rented a motorboat to ride around the Gulf of Suez. Six kilometers offshore, one of them, Omar Abdelkader (23, a student), jumped off the boat to go for a swim. According to another version, he accidentally fell overboard. He was attacked by a shark, biting his left leg. The sad result was an amputation of his leg above the knee.
It was a mako shark. They are large in size - up to 13 feet (4 meters) long, up to 1,200 pounds (550 kilograms) in weight. If he had encountered a bull, tiger, or great white, the result would have been quite sad.
After the attack, authorities banned swimming and fishing in the waters around Ain Sokhna for 15 days. It was forbidden to go more than 650 feet (200 meters) from the shore.
A German tourist (53 years old) was snorkeling on the reef near the resort town of El Qusair. His name was not disclosed, but there is unofficial information that his name was Art Man Dltr. He was attacked by a shark, its species never identified. Supposedly it was a mako.
The shark bit off the tourist's right leg to the knee, and this wound was very severe. A member of the Coraya Divers team, who was near the place, pulled the tourist to the surface and the shark attacked again. Unfortunately, the tourist died on the way to the hospital, the cause of death being too much blood loss.
German tourist Renat Seiffert was snorkeling near the reef near the Hyatt Regency Resort in Sharm El Sheikh. She was attacked by a shark and took several severe bites. The tourist's right arm, right leg, abdomen, and buttocks were injured. The woman died of her wounds almost immediately.
Niclas Westmar, a Swedish tourist, was nearby. He claimed there were two sharks. According to the teeth marks, it was found a whitetip shark attacked, a fairly large species - up to 13 feet (4 meters) long, weighing up to 375 pounds (170 kilograms). They usually prefer the open ocean and do not approach the shore. As it looks, see the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge.
The famous oceanologist Jacques-Yves Cousteau called the whitetip shark the most dangerous. It is believed that whitetips have killed the most people in history, as they are the first to arrive at shipwrecks.
All four incidents occurred in Sharm El Sheikh - two in the Coral Bay area, two in the Ras Nasrani area.
The first victim, Olga Marcinko (48 years old, Russian), was swimming near the hotel pier on November 30. The shark bit off her left arm and caused other injuries. Fortunately, Olga survived.
The second victim on November 30, Ludmila Stolyarova (70 years old, Russian) lost her left leg, right hand, and fingers on her left hand. Fortunately, Ludmila survived.
The third victim, Viktor Koliy (46 years old, Ukrainian) received multiple leg injuries on 1 December, but he was released from the hospital on 2 December. He was the least injured of the four.
The fourth victim, Yevgeni Trishkin (54 years old, Russian) lost his left hand on December 1.
In all four cases a whitetip shark attacked. In all cases the tourists were swimming close to the reef. It is believed that it was the same shark.
The hotels tried to take care of the tourists' safety as much as they could. For example, they hung signs like on the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge. The Egyptian authorities organized a hunt near Sharm El Sheikh to find and kill this shark. Did it succeed or not? We don't know exactly.
The victim, Jelena Rubanovich (54, from Lithuania), suffered multiple injuries on her left leg. There's no point in describing this case in detail now. The thing is that Elena took part in the TV-program "Let them speak!" where she described everything in detail. If you are interested, you can find a recording of this program on the Internet. The record is avaliable with English subtitles.
This case, while not fatal, is perhaps the most frightening.
Englishman James Elliott, 24, was not diving to the reefs or swimming in the open sea. He was just swimming 40 feet (12 meters) from the shore when he was attacked by a shark. James lost his left foot. The shark grabbed his left foot, but James struck with his right, and the shark swam away.
This is the only shallow water attack so far, and hopefully it will remain the only one.
- Traders on the beaches sometimes offer tourists to buy shark teeth as a souvenir. We warn you that taking such a souvenir out of the country is prohibited and punishable, as we wrote about in the review "What you can not take out of Egypt";
- Besides sharks, there are other more likely dangers for tourists. Read our detailed review "What tourists should not do in Egypt".
Have a good vacation in Egypt, and read our interesting pages about this country (see the list of the pages below).
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