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What Kind of Sharks are in the Red Sea?

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The Red Sea and the countries that border it

If you are planning a vacation to a seaside resort in Egypt, Sudan or Saudi Arabia, you may be wondering what kind of sharks are in the Red Sea that you should look out for?

The Red Sea is surrounded by mountains on all sides, and indeed consists of very deep water apart from a shallow ledge around the coastal resorts and villages.

This makes the water suitable for swimming near the shore, and a paradise for divers who want to explore the deep warm waters and coral reefs that grow so well in the Red Sea.

Shark diving excursions can be the highlight of your vacation, and there are many dive operators ready to take parties out into the deep Red Sea waters where you can be lowered into shark-infested waters from the safety of a cage.

Sharks lurk in the deeper waters by day, and come out to feed at dusk, unless tempted out by the chum thrown overboard by the shark dive operators.

As these deeper water are very near the coast, you could be splashing about in the shallow water with your family, completely unaware that a fearsome predator lurks nearby.

For this reason, it is safer not to swim in the sea between dusk and dawn. It is safer still to stay near to your hotel swimming pool and well away from the Red Sea.

So, what kinds of sharks are in the Red Sea, and are there any dangerous ones?

Kind of sharks in the Red Sea and their Danger Level

Shark SpeciesLatin nameDangerous to humans

Great White Shark

Carcharodon carcharias

Yes, VERY

Milk Shark

Rhizoprionodon acutus

No

Sharpnose sevengill shark

Heptranchias perlo

Potentially

Bigeye houndshark

Lago omanensis

No

Starspotted smooth-hound shark

Mustelus manazo

No

Arabian smooth-hound shark

Mustelus mosis

No

Whale shark

Rhincodon typus

No

Common Thresher Shark

Alopias vulpinus

No

Snaggletooth shark

Hemipristis elongatus

Potentially

Common Thresher Shark

Alopias vulpinus

No

Pelagic thresher shark

Alopias pelagicus

No

Silvertip shark

Carcharhinus albimarginatus

Potentially

Bignose shark

Carcharhinus altimus

Potentially

Grey reef shark

Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos

Potentially

Spinner shark

Carcharhinus brevipinna

Potentially

Silky shark

Carcharhinus falciformis

Potentially

Bull shark

Carcharhinus leucas

Yes, VERY

Blacktip shark

Carcharhinus limbatus

Yes

Oceanic whitetip shark

Carcharhinus longimanus

Yes

Blacktip reef shark

Carcharhinus melanopterus

Potentially

Dusky shark

Carcharhinus obscurus

Potentially

Sandbar shark

Carcharhinus plumbeus

Potentially

Spottail shark

Carcharhinus sorrah

No

Tiger shark

Galeocerdo cuvier

Yes, VERY

Sicklefin lemon shark

Negaprion acutidens

No

Whitetip reef shark

Triaenodon obesus

Potentially

Tawny nurse shark

Nebrius ferrugineus

No

Shortfin mako

Isurus oxyrinchus

Potentially

Scalloped hammerhead

Sphyrna lewini

No

Great hammerhead

Sphyrna mokarran

Potentially

Smooth hammerhead

Sphyrna zygaena

Yes

Zebra shark

Stegostoma fasciatum

No

Sand Tiger Shark

Carcharias taurus

Yes


As you can see from the chart, all three of the most dangerous sharks in the world inhabit the Red Sea, as well as a multitude of others, some dangerous and others less so.

The known really dangerous sharks are the great white, the tiger and the bull shark, and all three are present in the Red Sea.

The sharks labelled as 'potentially' dangerous are a mixture of the following:

  • Big fish with sharp teeth that hardly ever come into human contact.
  • Small fish with sharp teeth that have been known to bite when disturbed.
  • Small fish with sharp teeth that have been known to join in a 'feeding frenzy' and bite anything that moves multiple times.

You are highly unlikely to meet any of them unless you are actually in the water at some point, in which case it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the kind of sharks that live in the Red Sea.

As some are completely harmless, it is a good idea to learn which ones they are. On the other hand, if you treat all Red Sea sharks as potentially dangerous, you are more likely to stay safe.

Red Sea Dive Operators

Shark Diving in Red Sea

Knowing the kinds of sharks that are in the Red Sea is important for people who want to swim with sharks, or cage-dive with sharks.

This is a tremendous experience, getting up close to those amazing fish.

It is very important when swimming with sharks that you never annoy a shark, or be tempted to pull on its tail, perhaps to get it to turn round for a photo opportunity.

Sharks are potentially very dangerous creatures.

Their bodies are made from cartilage. This gives them the strength and dexterity to whip their heads right round to their tail lightning quick.

So your pulling or poking on its tail could easily result in you losing your hand, should the shark take offence

Sharks teeth are mainly designed for slicing and they can take your hand right off with one bite.

If you are offered the use of a shark cage, use it. Do not be tempted to put your hand out through the cage to stroke the shark.

Sharks are magnificent animals, but please give them all the respect they deserve.

Comments

Zia Uddin from UK on November 26, 2018:

I like this hub on sharks in the Red sea. Voted up.