Egypt says 1 shark caught, another still at large

A top Egyptian official said Wednesday that he believes that one of two sharks involved in attacks on tourists in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh has been caught, while the other remains at large.

Governor of South Sinai Mohammed Shousha said according to initial findings from U.S. and Egyptian experts a Mako shark caught Thursday mauled two tourists last week.

An Oceanic White Tip that mauled two Russians last week and killed a German woman on Sunday remains at large and the resort's 30-miles of beaches remain closed indefinitely.

The scientists drew their conclusions based on the pattern of bite marks on the victims and according to witness accounts, Shousha said.

A tourist couple walks in the shallow waters at a closed beach in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010.
A tourist couple walks in the shallow waters at a closed beach in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010.

A team of U.S. experts is in Sharm el-Sheikh to help investigate the unusual series of attacks in one of the world's top diving destinations.

"The search for the Oceanic White Tip continues," he said. Divers are surveying the waters.

Sharm el-Sheikh is a major Egyptian tourist attraction, with a busy airport that brings in package tours from Europe and offers a warm and quick escape from frigid winter temperatures on the continent. Divers are drawn by the steep drop-offs of coral reefs just offshore that offer deep walls of coral with a rich and colorful sea life. There is also an observatory to view wild sharks.

Shark attacks in the area are rare and authorities were scrambling to prevent them from cutting into the crucial revenues that Red Sea tourism brings to Egypt.

Sharm's trouble's began in the middle of last week when sharks mauled three Russians and one Ukrainian tourist. One Russian woman had her hand bitten off and another lost a hand and a leg. But all four victims survived.

Then on Sunday, a shark tore the arm off a 70-year-old German tourist while she was snorkeling and she died almost immediately.

The resort at the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula has boomed since the 1980s. There are some 100 hotels, long stretches of sandy white beaches, desert safari excursions and a vibrant night life.

Beach tourism is believed to contribute about 66 percent of Egypt's total income from tourism, which is expected to reach $12.3 billion by the end of the current fiscal year in June, Tourism Minister Zohair Garanah was quoted as saying in state-owned Al-Gomhuria daily.

Experts so far have been at a loss to explain the reasons for the sudden spate of shark attacks.

Environmentalists have theorized that overfishing or depletion of food sources from other causes could be driving sharks closer to shore in search of food. There are also accusations that tourist boats are illegally dumping meat into the water to attract sharks for passengers wanting to photograph them.

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