Red Sea Sharks is an organisation dedicated to the study and conservation of sharks in Egypt and the Red Sea. It was founded in 2012.

Its main goals are:

  1. Collecting information & scientific data on shark populations in the Red Sea.
  2. Raising awareness among divers of the conservation issues and threats sharks are facing worldwide.

 

Background…

The actual starting point for the charity was in 2004. Biologist Dr Elke Bojanowski had started working as a dive guide on Egyptian liveaboards in April, and by October that year, she started encountering Oceanic Whitetips Sharks (Carcharhinus longimanus) regularly, especially in Elphinstone.

Looking at oceanic whitetips with the eyes of a biologist, they make for perfect study subjects – for two main reasons: their appearance and their behaviour.

The conspicuous colour markings on all their fin tips are ideal for photo-identification, a non-invasive research technique using natural markings to identify individuals and follow them – basically a mark-&-recapture system, without artificially marking or physically recapturing animals.

If you add the behaviour of the oceanics, extremely self-confident & curious, closely approaching divers on a regular base in the shallows in perfect light conditions – that makes these markings very easy to document (i.e. photograph and/or film)!

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The Research Side…

The ‘longimanus-project’ was born in October 2004, resulting in the biggest database for this shark species worldwide (for details, go to www.redseasharks.org). More than 45.000 underwater images & videos have been collected to date, leading to the identification of more than 1000 individual oceanics in the Egyptian Red Sea.

Photo-identification is also a perfect example for what is now called ‘Citizen Science’…

Any underwater photograph of a shark can be helpful, as long as there is reliable information on where (which reef/location) and when (which day) these images were taken. Close to 1200 divers helped to accumulate this database…

In 2010, two more photo-ID projects started, on Grey Reef Sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) and on Silky Sharks (C. falciformis).

Additionally – realising that there was no long-term, systematic data collection on sharks – a general shark monitoring program began, recording all dives and specifics of shark sightings in as much detail as possible.

All these research projects are still ongoing and are now conducted under the umbrella of the Red Sea Sharks Trust, which Elke founded in 2012 and has been coordinating ever since…

The Educational/Awareness Side…

Since 2007, the educational and awareness division of the Trust has been evolving, with dedicated shark weeks being run in the Egyptian Red Sea on a regular base.

Informative, shark-related presentations are offered to the guests on the trips guided by Elke; with topics including species identification & distribution, biology, behaviour, conservation & research…

Modifying the presentations for different areas and sites, these informative lectures are not restricted to Egypt anymore. Since 2015, Elke has also given shark presentations on liveaboards in the Maldives, Sudan, and Galapagos.

 

How to support Red Sea Sharks…

The work of the Trust is mainly supported by donations and shark adoptions; more information can be found on the website – www.redseasharks.org. On all our trips, there will be a chance to donate to Red Sea Sharks.

To directly support the research, PLEASE share your underwater pictures and videos! As mentioned, anybody’s footage can hold valuable information, as long as it comes with details on where (which site) and when (which date) it was taken.

It is only used for scientific purposes… if any of the submitted materials (or excerpts) are used for educational purposes (briefings or presentations), the photographer will be credited by name.

Photographs can be emailed to elke@redseasharks.org, and larger files can be transferred via portals such as WeTransfer.com. Please send pictures and videos in the highest resolution possible, and include your full name, the dive site, and the date you took the footage.

Red Sea Sharks is a registered charity in England & Wales (#1160933).

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