Tagged oceanic whitetip shark

Five shark species added to CITES Appendix II

CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) voted yesterday to include five shark species to Appendix II. The species include:

  • oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus)
  • great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran)
  • scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini)
  • smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena)
  • porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus)

The inclusion of these species in the CITES Appendix II now requires that the sharks “will have to be traded with CITES permits and evidence will have to be provided that they are harvested sustainably and legally.”

In addition to the sharks species, the inclusion of manta ray species and a species of sawfish into Appendix II was also approved yesterday. These inclusion are considered to be a major milestone for CITES involvement in the marine environment.

CITES is an international agreement between governments formed to regulate the international trade of wild animals and plants to protect their survival. For more information, visit the CITES website.

OceanicWorld’s YouTube channel recently posted a video (seen above) featuring reactions from CITES delegates following the adoption of all 5 proposed shark species.

Reports of oceanic whitetip shark off Cornwall coast

The BBC is reporting that multiple sightings of an oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) have been reported to Cornwall harbor officials. Two people on separate boats reported seeing the species about 1 mile from the shore. However, a spokesperson for the harbormaster’s office said that the identity of the species had not been “100% confirmed.”

Richard Pierce, chairman of the Shark Trust, issued the following statement about the reported sightings:

It is always exciting and interesting to get sighting reports of what may be new species to our waters. Elements of the description we have heard are consistent with Oceanic Whitetips, although to date there have been no confirmed reports of Oceanics in UK waters.

The BBC notes that oceanic whitetip sharks are typically not found further north than Portugal.

In related news, The Mirror, The Sun, The Telegraph, and Herald Sun feature stories about a “terrifying” attack by a “killer” shark, which involved a shark ramming a fisherman’s boat in a manner reminiscent of “Jaws.” The description of the shark involved in the incident matched the description of an oceanic whitetip shark.

Video: HEPCA shark protection in the Red Sea

HEPCA recently put together a video focused on their shark protection campaign in response to the illegal killing of sharks in the Red Sea, following a spate of shark attacks in November, 2010. HEPCA managing director, Amr Ali, referred to the illegal shark killings as “criminal insanity” that has to be “stopped immediately.”

In addition to addressing the legal issues associated with shark fishing, the video also points out that the presence of sharks in the Red Sea is a tourist draw for a lot of diver who wish to see sharks, particularly Oceanic Whitetip sharks (Carcharhinus longimanus), in the wild. Elke Bojanowski, HEPCA shark specialist, points out that sharks over their entire life span can bring in “huge amounts of money” for the tourism market.

Despite capture of supposed culprits, another shark attack in Sharm el-Sheikh

BBC News is reporting that another shark attack has occurred at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Sadly, the victim, an elderly German woman, was fatally attacked by a shark while snorkeling off of the resort in Egypt.

The recent attack comes only days after 3 other people were attacked by what has been reported as an adult oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus).

It should be noted, a recent release from Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA) has stated that one of the reported attacks has since been discounted and the injuries sustained were the result of contact with coral, though the BBC along with some other major news outlets are still reporting that four attacks occurred last week.

While the beaches of Sharm el-Sheikh had initially been closed due to last week’s attacks, they were re-opened after environment ministry officials claimed to have caught and killed two sharks, which were reportedly identified as having been the sharks responsible for the previous attacks.

Video (seen above) and photographs of the capture of shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) were released by the environment ministry, along with the claim that the captured mako shark was responsible for the attacks. However, photographs shot by divers, of an oceanic whitetip shark involved in at least one of the attacks seemed to discredit the environment ministry claim that the mako shark they had captured was responsible for the attacks. It was later reported that a second shark, an oceanic whitetip, reportedly also involved in at least one of the attacks was captured and killed. However, HEPCA maintains that the photographs of the oceanic whitetip, taken by divers, do match up with the photographs of the captured oceanic whitetip, and that it is clear that they are not the same shark.

Beaches in the area have been closed down once again, following this most recent attack. Zuhair Garana, the Egyptian Tourism Minister, has stated that biologists are being brought in to investigate what might have triggered the string of attacks. The string of attacks is being considered highly unusual and many are left baffled as to what might be contributing to the repeated attacks.

Speculation that sharks may be in area due to the dumping of sheep carcasses by an Australian cargo ship has been widely reported across many media outlets including the BBC News article. However, there is nothing regarding this speculation that seems to indicate or explain why a shark or sharks would be targeting humans.

More conflicting reports on Red Sea shark attacks

The Red Sea shark attack story seems to be getting stranger as more conflicting reports surface. According to a BBC News report, the Egyptian environment ministry have claimed that the shark responsible for attacking four people on Wednesday has been captured and is being held at a local national marine park. The environment ministry released a photo of the captured shark suspected of the attacks. However, Egyptian dive industry officials are claiming that they have photos of the shark responsible for the attacks, and it is not the same shark as the one captured by the environment ministry.

To make matters more confusing, the shark involved in the attacks has been widely reported as being an oceanic whitetip shark, but the captured shark featured in the photo from the BBC News article appears to be a mako.

The BBC News report comes on the heels of reports that two sharks were captured and sent to be dissected to determine if either was responsible for the attacks.

Additionally, The Washington Post reported that one victim lost a hand and another lost a leg in the attacks, while BBC News reports that one victim lost an arm and another lost a hand.

Among all of the conflicting reports, one thing seems fairly consistent, and that is the report that one of the victims is in critical condition. If this information is true, let us all hope for a recovery for the critical patient, as well as the others injured in these attacks, regardless of the circumstances surrounding them.