CDWS statement: 9 December 14:00
1. Preliminary findings of shark scientific team
2. Sharm el Sheikh diving restrictions remain in place until further notice
The three international shark experts are continuing to work with authorities in Egypt to determine the causal factors involved in the spate of shark attacks in Sharm el Sheikh. The team is progressing with its scientific research and is verifying available data, as well as evidence gathered through eye witness reports from people both in the water and at the shore at the time of each of the five attacks on snorkellers.
Scientists have indicated that their findings, up to now, suggest two species were involved in the attacks: one oceanic whitetip shark and one mako shark. Initial investigations by shark experts and marine scientists suggest factors that may have contributed - but are not limited to - the causes of behavioural change in sharks involved in attacks include the following:
*One or more incidents of illegal dumping of animal carcasses in nearby waters
*Depletion of natural prey in the area caused by overfishing
*Localised feeding of reef fish and/or sharks by swimmers, snorkellers and some divers
*Unusually high water temperatures in Sharm el Sheikh
CDWS would like to make it clear these are NOT the final conclusions, and that the investigation is still ongoing. The CDWS would also like to underline that it has NOT been, or will be, involved in any shark hunts.
The restrictions placed on diving and watersports activities along the Sharm el Sheikh coast will continue until further notice. The majority of areas in Sharm el Sheikh remain open to diving activities for CDWS members and their clients, however, there are restrictions on where these can take place and on client experience.
Qualified diving clients, who must have a minimum of 50 logged dives, are permitted to participate in scuba activities run by boat by CDWS members in the following areas:
- area of Tiran
- all dive sites south of Naama Bay to Ras Mohammed National Park
- the entire area of Ras Mohammed National Park
Diving remains completely banned at this time in the area between Ras Nasrani to the north of Naama Bay. No shore diving is permitted anywhere in the Sharm el Sheikh area.
Under NO circumstances are introductory or training dives permitted to take place in the sea anywhere in Sharm el Sheikh until CDWS members are notified otherwise. However, training and introductory diving activities are able to take place in other resorts, such as Dahab.
CDWS chairman Hesham Gabr said: "It is widely known sharks behave very differently towards divers in the water. However, as an extra precaution, only experienced divers are permitted to take part in guided activities in Sharm el Sheikh at this time. The 50 logged dive limit is a benchmark judged in recognised scuba standards to ensure divers have good buoyancy and control underwater and behave in a calm and controlled manner."
Egyptian authorities confirmed restrictions currently in place along the Sharm el Sheikh coast, will remain until further notice. Snorkelling activities and other watersports remain heavily restricted - with the exception of glass bottom boat operations - along the whole of the Sharm el Sheikh coastal area. Swimming/snorkelling in the sea is only in designated safe, natural sheltered bay areas within the Ras Mohammed National and the Nabq National Park.
Holidaymakers can continue to enjoy their holidays in resort and are able to swim in the many swimming pools of hotels and also have access to sunbathe on the beaches.
Any decision to reassess restrictions will be made only when the scientific work by the team of experts is completed. Safety of visitors is of the upmost concern to all the authorities involved.
The scientific work is currently in phase one: the diagnostic phase. Once this is complete, phase two will involve the exploration of options to deal with the factors of the diagnostic phase. The third phase will be the implementation of chosen options. Phase four will cover the long-term measures that will be taken.
The Chamber of Diving and Watersports is the regulatory body for diving and water sports in Egypt. Operating under the umbrella of the Egyptian Tourist Authority, CDWS have implemented a set of European standards to which all members must comply. According to Egyptian Law, it is required that all diving operations be a member of CDWS in order to obtain or renew their operating license issued by the Ministry of Tourism. For more information regarding CDWS visit www.cdws.travel
Shark experts working with the marine scientific team:
Dr George H Burgess, the director of the Florida Program and curator of the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History for Shark Research.
Dr Marie Levine, head of the Shark Research Institute in Princeton, USA.
Dr Ralph Collier, of the Shark Research Committee and author of Shark Attacks of the Twentieth Century.
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