Monday, January 03, 2011

There are 49 species of sharks in the Red Sea

I just saw this interesting tidbit at Victor Shikhman's blog (h/t Silke):
You may remember the story which recently made headlines around the world, of Mossad-trained sharks taste-testing unsuspecting tourists to Egypt's Sharm El Sheikh resort, in a clever Zionist bid to devastate the Egyptian economy, which is heavily dependent on tourism. Like me, you were probably aghast at the diabolical nature of the Zionist plot, to harness the ocean deep's more fearsome and ruthless creature in a brutal and unprovoked attack on the most peace-loving nation of people among all of humanity - the Egyptians. After all, who had ever heard of shark attacks in these tranquil waters?

The Sharm el-Sheikh harbor, at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula where the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba meet and join the Red Sea, offers one of the most spectacular views I have ever seen. Its waters are deep blue - Egyptian prisoners warned us against swimming there for they are teeming with sharks - and they are framed by hills of crimson rock.
Moshe Dayan: Story of My Life, pg. 254-255.

We are left to conclude either that sharks have been present in the waters off the resort for at least sixty years, or that Moshe Dayan, writing in 1965 about events of the Sinai Campaign some ten years earlier, inserted an insidious line meant to absolve the nascent Mossad shark-training program of culpability in the attacks on tourists to Egypt some six decades hence.
Which got me to do a little research and find this:

Boni il, R.; Abdallah, M. Field identification guide to the sharks and rays of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes. Rome, FAO. 2004. 71p. 12 colour plates. 
This volume presents a fully illustrated field guide for the identification of the sharks and rays most relevant to the fisheries of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. An extensive literature review and two field surveys in the region were carried out for the preparation of this document. A total of 49 sharks and 45 batoids reliably reported for the region are listed and those common in the fisheries or likely to be found through fishing operations are fully treated (44 sharks and 33 batoids). Included here are the first confirmed reports for the region of Hensigaleu.s. miernsruniii. Carvharhinus dussinnierf Actomyfilmy vespertilin, Hinumnirir liii, Aluhuld japonica and an undescribed Dasyuris sp. The guide includes sections on technical terms and measurements for sharks and batoids, and fully illustrated keys to those orders and families that occur in the region. Each species account includes: at least one annotated illustration of the species highlighting its relevant identification characters: basic information on nomenclature, synonyms and possible misidentifications; FAO, common and local names; basic information on size, habitat and biology, importance to fisheries, and distribution. Colour plates for a large number of the species are included.