CAIRO (Reuters) - Conservation workers in Egypt caught and killed the wrong sharks after attacks on four foreign divers at a Red Sea resort, and the shark responsible for the attacks is still at large, a marine NGO said.
The Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA) said in a statement on Friday that photographs of the dead sharks and pictures of the attack shark taken shortly before one of the attacks showed they were not the same fish.
The environment ministry had said on Thursday that the dead sharks matched descriptions given by divers who rescued three wounded Russians and a Ukrainian after the attacks near Sharm El Sheikh on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Comparing the photographs of the oceanic whitetip shark responsible for the 2nd attack with the images of the captured oceanic whitetip shark, it is clear that they don’t show the same individual,” HEPCA said in a statement.
The NGO said shark attacks were “extremely rare” and warned against “randomly catching and killing” large oceanic sharks in the area. The recent attacks were probably carried out by a single shark behaving abnormally, it said.
A 12-member conservation crew caught the first shark near Sharm El Sheikh, the ministry said, and the second was hunted later by local state environmental officers.
An oceanic whitetip shark bit off one diver’s hand and caused severe leg and back injuries to the others, officials said. The victims were transferred to the Nasser Institute Hospital in Cairo and a swimming ban is in force on part of the coast.
Only 11 whitetip sharks the size of the shark responsible for the second attack have been identified in the Egyptian Red Sea over the past six years, HEPCA said.