Shark Monitoring Programme
The Red Sea Sharks Monitoring Programme uses qualified volunteers to record the sightings of shark species on dive sites on the Egyptian Red Sea
You can view some of the information that we have collected on recent sightings at different dive sites in interactive charting section below.
Monitoring Programme Details
Despite millions of visitors to the Egyptian Red Sea every year – and the jobs and revenues they create - we know practically nothing about one of our major marine attractions: Red Sea sharks. Taking into account the drastic worldwide population declines and fishing pressure in our region, this lack of scientific data needs to be rectified as soon as possible – if we want to have a fighting chance for effective conservation and management plans.
Who could be better fitted and more motivated to protect Red Sea sharks than locals and diving professionals themselves?
The ongoing daily underwater activities of all diveguides present a wealth of information, unparalleled by anything even the most dedicated researchers can collect on their own. This includes identifying species that are sighted, details on where they were sighted, their behaviour, and environmental conditions such as currents and water temperatures.
For now, our efforts are focussing on diveguides that are working on liveaboards visiting drop-off reefs and marine parks throughout the Egyptian Red Sea and the large, mostly predatory, shark species encountered there.
For those divers that are willing to dedicate some of their time to the collection of this kind of data on a reliable, longterm base, we will provide an electronic log sheet to be filled in for every safari week, plus an information brochure detailing the kind of information needed and how to record it.
If you are a diveguide working on any of the Egyptian liveaboards and are willing to support us by recording information on your shark sightings on a weekly base, please contact us here.
The complete dataset will not be made available to the public. However, information of general interest to divers and other tourists, such as latest reported shark sightings or sighting probabilities of certain species at certain reefs will be published on this website. The more detailed sighting data will be used for scientific analyses only, and will be made available for conservation purposes and their incorporation in potential future management plans.
Asking the diving community for reporting shark sightings is not our only method to collect data on our shark populations. We will continue to make use of photo-identification techniques for a variety of species as well as increase our efforts to utilize modern electronic devices (such as acoustic and satellite tags) to help uncover important information to protect sharks in the Red Sea.
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Red Sea Sharks Photo ID Programme Details
Photo-identification is a well-established tool in wildlife monitoring, both in terrestrial and marine ecosystems. It uses natural markings to identify and follow individuals of a wide variety of animal species, e.g. tigers, manatees, dolphins, whales and even octopuses.
A number of shark species have been studied worldwide applying this non-invasive technique, including spotted raggedtooth or sandtiger sharks (Carcharias taurus), whale sharks (Rhincodon typus), whitetip reef sharks (Triaenodon obesus) and great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias).
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.
In the Red Sea, the number of divers present all year round and the affordability and resulting widespread use of digital underwater cameras make photo-identification a valuable tool for elasmobranch (shark & ray) research. The collection of shark and ray photographs from both dive guides and tourists is the main objective of this study.
A minimum of 5 Red Sea species have natural markings suitable for this method:
Oceanic whitetip shark - Carcharhinus longimanus
Whale shark - Rhincodon typus (see http://www.whaleshark.org)
Whitetip reef shark - Triaenodon obesus (see http://www.whitetip.org)
Manta ray - Manta birostris (see http://marinemegafauna.org)
Grey reef shark - C. amblyrhynchos
Silky Shark - C. falciformis