On Thursday, a 23-year-old Russian man died after being mauled by a shark in the shallows off the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Hurghada, some 300 miles south of Cairo.
Russian state media confirmed he was a full-time resident there, and news outlet Baza subsequently named him as Vladimir Popov. His girlfriend managed to escape.
Egypt’s environment ministry identified the animal as a tiger shark. A video shot by an onlooker from the shore shows the victim thrashing around and being dragged underwater. His father was also on the beach.
While such attacks are rare in the Red Sea, they are not unheard of. In 2022, two women – one Australian and the other Romanian – were killed just days apart by sharks in Hurghada.
The International Shark Attack File (ISAF) defines “unprovoked bites” as “incidents in which a bite on a live human occurs in the shark’s natural habitat with no human provocation of the shark”. They count 3,349 unwarranted attacks globally since records began.
Of these, more took place in the US than anywhere else. Just under half of the total – 1,604 incidents (48 percent) – happened in America’s coastal waters.
Bathers in Florida are consistently those most affected. It comes as no surprise that the ISAF is run by the Florida Museum, which also keeps up an interactive map of the specific location of attacks.
The Sunshine State may have recorded no fatalities last year, but its 16 bites represented 28 percent of the worldwide total alone.
Zooming in further, Volusia County, nestled between Orlando and the Atlantic and home to the tourist hub of Daytona Beach, accounted for seven of these. Last August, local news reported three shark attacks there within the space of a week.
After the US, Australia was found to be the second-most likely place to be bitten by a shark, with 691 occurrences in total. This was followed by South Africa (260), Brazil (111) and New Zealand (57). Egypt ranked only 12th with just 24 to its name.
Identifying the species of shark involved is often difficult, as victim observations of the perpetrating beast are rarely reliable. Three, however, stand out.
The IFS singles out the “Big Three”: large species that are “capable of inflicting serious injuries to a victim” and that are “commonly found in areas where humans enter the water, and have teeth designed to shear rather than hold”.
These are white, bull and tiger – as in the Egyptian case – sharks. A kill count of 59, 26 and 39 has been attributed to each of those species respectively.