Shark Cognition and a Human Mediated Driver of a Spate of Shark Attacks

paper8Published in October 2014

Shark Cognition and a Human Mediated Driver of a Spate of Shark Attacks

Marie Levine, Ralph S. Collier, Erich Ritter, Moustafa Fouda, Vincent Canabal


Five unprovoked shark attacks are reported from Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt, between 30 November and 5 December 2010. Three of the five attacks are attributed to an oceanic whitetip shark, Carcharinus longimanus with a distinctive crescent-shaped notch in the upper lobe of the caudal fin. The shark was observed during the first attack on a snorkeler and photographed underwater during the second shark attack on a swimmer. In a video taken several months prior to the attacks, the same shark is hand-fed underwater by a divemaster with additional fish in a pack over his buttock. The shark can be seen swimming behind the divemaster while he removed additional fish from this pack. In Victims 1, 2 and 5, the shark removed an extensive amount of tissue from the victims’ buttock. The three victims also lost a hand and/or a portion of their forearm, suggesting the injuries were inflicted by a shark conditioned to associating food with hand-feedings and the human form. The remaining two attacks, Cases 3 and 4, were attributable to the shortfin mako shark, Isurus oxyrinchus. This was determined from a unique dental pattern of the right side of the upper jaw due to a prior injury. This same “misalignment” dental pattern was observed in the injuries sustained by Victims 3 and 4. We conclude that the shortfin mako shark was responsible for the attacks on Victims 3 and 4, and the oceanic whitetip shark was the causal species of attacks on Victims 1, 2, and 5.

Open Journal of Animal Sciences, Vol.04 No.05(2014), Article ID:50200,6 pages



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