The Tragedy in Sharm el Sheikh – Who is to Blame?

Some of you may have heard about the recent shark attack in Sharm el Sheikh.  This is what we heard yesterday, and this is what we heard today.

To those of you that already read this blog, you will know that Sharm el Sheikh holds a special place in the heart of Tangodiver and The Divemaster.  Not only is Sharm the place where they both met, but it continues to be one of the best places on the planet to observe marine life.   Tangodiver suggests you Google Sharm and The Red Sea to get more information on the diving in this area as there is not enough space here to really explain it.  If it is good enough for Jacques Cousteau….

Sharm is also where Tangodiver first observed (from the boat) a juvenile oceanic white tip shark in December 2009.  You can read about the sighting here.   The Divemaster had the good fortune to snorkel with it!  Boy that man was quick!  In all the years of scuba diving, Tango Diver has not seen many sharks.  She saw a shark from a dhoni in The Maldives.  She saw the back of a nurse shark in The Caymen Islands.  She saw a shark holding onto a tuna when deep-sea fishing off of the Kenya coast.  The latest shark sightings were the hammerheads in June 2009, the juvenile oceanic white tip from the boat in December 2009 and the leopard shark in September 2010.  Tangodiver doesn’t really count the 4-5 baby black tip reef sharks doing shark patrol the two times she has been to the Maldives.  They did that every day.  Not many shark sightings in over 10 years of scuba diving, eh?

If shark sightings were commonplace, there would be no need to bait them in certain parts of the world in order to see them.  Apparently it is common practice to do this in the Bahamas and off the coast of Florida.  But then again, people in these areas still fish  for them for sport!  Go figure!  And they wonder why the lionfish that found their way there are so prolific.  Here is a video about some num nuts interacting with sharks:

When one is doing their PADI certification, one is told that they are not to touch anything, not to take anything, and not to leave anything.  The animals in the sea are wild creatures and some have very sharp teeth.  If one looks on YouTube, one can also find the following:

And that is just from a moray eel.  In The Caymen Islands, when you do the trip to Stingray City, they take you to an eel garden to swim with eels afterwards.  The whole Stingray City and Eel Garden trip left Tangodiver traumatized by the experience.  It was so unnatural.   There is a big difference being a fisherman cleaning your fish and throwing the waste overboard and having the stingrays cotton on to a good thing and just going out to feed the fish – and going in the water with them.   Tangodiver doubts the fishermen went into the water with the stingrays while they were cleaning their catch.

When Tangodiver went to Kenya on safari, she was told to stay in the vehicle unless accompanied by someone with a weapon.  At the resorts, the first thing they tell you is not to touch or feed the animals, just like in a zoo.  Except the bush is not the zoo and the resort is in the bush.  Those cute little baboons that the tourists love have bloody great big teeth.  The week that Tangodiver and her family were on safari, an elephant killed a German tourist,  and a baboon went into a village, killed a toddler, and proceeded to eat it in front of the villagers.  In one of the resorts, Tangodiver’s children witnessed an American woman having her arm grabbed by a huge male baboon because she had food.  Everyone had been told not to feed the monkeys!  She was lucky to keep her arm.

So what does this have to do with the tragedy in Sharm?  Well, the tragedy in Sharm is a symptom.  It is a symptom of greed and ignorance.  Regardless of the nationality of the victims in the shark attacks, the attack are a tragedy twofold.  One, because it is a tragedy for any human being to suffer any type of attack by an animal or human.  Two, it is tragic that an animal was killed in retaliation just because it was doing what comes naturally to it or what it might have become conditioned to.  It is assumed that the people injured were feeding the fish.  It is assumed that the shark attack was by an oceanic white tip.  Shark attacks in The Red Sea are rare.  So what really happened?  We may never know.  What I do know is that this is not an oceanic white tip shark according to this article.  What we can assume is that hotels, snorkel boats and glass bottomed boats encourage tourists to feed the fish in order to provide a more interactive experience with the marine life.  If this is the situation, then people are acting with complete and utter ignorance and stupidity.

Tangodiver is extremely sad that a shark was killed in order to appease the tourist trade in Sharm.  She is also very sad that a couple of people had their arms bitten off.  In some ways these people are lucky that they didn’t get anything else bitten off, because if people were really shark food, there would not have been much left of them and there most likely would have been more damage, if having your arms bitten off are not enough.  Interesting that it was the arms.  Hmmm!

Now, if Tangodiver didn’t have enough trouble with a little damsel fish being territorial on her last dive trip, and the trouble to be heard about a particular trigger fish, both which are considerably smaller than a shark and where no food was involved, don’t you think that people could be a bit sensible and avoid feeding the fishes?  If it has teeth, leave it the hell alone.  People need to practice restraint!





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