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6 Sharks in The Red Sea You Should Know About

Egypt’s Red Sea is celebrated for its vibrant coral reefs and intriguing shipwrecks and as a top spot for encountering marine life. Sharks are some of the most thrilling creatures for divers to observe amongst the sea’s underwater inhabitants.

This guide delves into what types of **sharks in the Red Sea** you might encounter, adding a bucket list element to your dive. From hammerheads to reef sharks, the diversity is impressive, and the encounters are unforgettable.

We also highlight the prime spots and times for shark sightings, offering advice on when and where you have the best chance to see these majestic creatures. This information aims to ensure visitors experience the most thrilling meetings possible.

Hammerhead sharks. Sharks in the Red Sea. Infinite Blue Dive Travel

Hammerhead sharks

Hammerhead sharks are among the most distinctive species encountered in the Red Sea. They are renowned for their unique head structure, which resembles a hammer. These fascinating creatures are often a highlight for scuba divers due to their intriguing appearance and graceful swimming patterns.

Hammerhead sharks in the Red Sea can typically be seen cruising along steep drop-offs, using their oddly shaped heads to enhance manoeuvrability and sensory perception. 

These sharks utilize their wide-set eyes to provide a better visual range for detecting prey, making them formidable hunters. They are large, with some individuals reaching lengths of up to 20 feet, although sizes around 10-14 feet are more common in these waters.

Pro Tips and Seasonal Encounters

  • Best Time to Dive: The optimal time for hammerhead shark encounters in the Red Sea is during the summer months, from June to September. During this period, the water temperatures attract hammerheads closer to the surface.
  • Behavioural Patterns: Hammerheads are usually seen in the early mornings. Planning dives during this time increases the likelihood of sightings.

Tips for Diving with Hammerhead Sharks in the Red Sea

  • Approach with Caution: Hammerheads can be shy and quickly swim away if threatened. Divers should maintain a respectful distance, moving slowly and calmly.
  • Visibility: These sharks are often more visible during the early morning or late afternoon when the sun is not directly overhead.

Seasonal Encounters and Best Dive Sites

  • Seasonal Patterns: Although hammerhead sharks can be spotted throughout the year in the Red Sea, the best chances to see them are during the warmer months.
  • Daedalus Reef: This offshore reef is famous for encounters with hammerhead schools.
  • Brothers Islands: Another hotspot offering a chance to see these magnificent sharks up close.

6 sharks in the red sea you should know about. Reef shark. Infinite Blue Dive Travel

Reef Sharks

Reef sharks are familiar residents of the Red Sea. They are agile and slender, primarily found patrolling coral outcrops and reefs. Due to their grace and beauty, these sharks are a delight to observe, offering divers a quintessential shark experience.

Reef sharks in the Red Sea, including the blacktip and whitetip reef sharks, are characterized by their streamlined bodies and pointed snouts, which aid in navigating tight spaces within the reefs.

Typically, they can reach lengths of about 5 to 7 feet. They are curious yet cautious around divers, often seen patrolling the edges of reefs in search of food. Their colouration provides excellent camouflage against the reef backdrop, making them both mesmerizing and challenging to spot.

Pro Tips for Diving with Reef Sharks

  • Minimal Movement: To increase your chances of a close encounter, keep body movements to a minimum, as excessive activity can scare them away.
  • Be Patient: Spend time hovering quietly at a dive spot known for reef shark sightings; patience often pays off with spectacular views.

Seasonal Encounters and Top Diving Sites

  • Optimal Season: Reef sharks are present throughout the year; however, due to favourable water conditions, visibility tends to be best from March to May.
  • Ras Mohammed National Park: Known for its stunning coral walls and frequent shark sightings.
  • Jackson Reef, Tiran Island: This site provides reliable sightings of reef sharks, especially along the northern and western sides of the reef.

Oceanic Whitetip Sharks

Oceanic Whitetip Sharks are a more formidable species encountered in the Red Sea. Recognizable by their rounded fins with distinctive white markings, these pelagic sharks are known for their bold nature and often dominate the open waters.

They have a robust, stocky build with a broad, rounded nose and long, white-tipped, paddle-like pectoral fins. Their bodies are designed for sustained cruising in the open ocean and are often encountered in the upper layers of the sea where they hunt. These sharks typically grow about 6 to 10 feet in length. They are curious and sometimes assertive with divers, reflecting their top-predator status in their environment.

Pro Tips for Diving with Oceanic Whitetip Sharks

  • Stay Calm: If an oceanic whitetip approaches, maintain a calm demeanour. Their curiosity can bring them close, but they are generally not aggressive unless provoked.
  • Group Diving: Dive in groups as oceanic whitetips are less likely to approach closely when faced with numbers.

Seasonal Encounters and Top Diving Sites

  • Peak Season: The best times to see Oceanic Whitetip Sharks are during the spring (April and May) and autumn months (October and November) when they are drawn closer to the reef systems.
  • Elphinstone Reef: Known for frequent sightings of these solitary hunters.
  • Brothers Islands: Another favourite spot, providing opportunities to observe Oceanic Whitetips in clear waters.

Whale Sharks

Whale sharks are the largest fish species in the world. They grace the waters of the Red Sea with their gentle and majestic presence. Despite their size, these gentle giants pose no threat to humans, making them a favourite among divers.

Typically reaching 18 to 32 feet, whale sharks in the Red Sea can sometimes grow even more significant. They have a broad, flat head, a wide mouth, and a unique pattern of white spots and stripes on a dark grey background, making each distinguishable. These filter feeders swim with their mouths open, consuming vast amounts of plankton, small fish, and squid.

Pro Tips for Diving with Whale Sharks

  • Maintain Distance: While whale sharks are harmless, divers should keep a considerable distance to avoid disturbing them.
  • Be Prepared for the Encounter: Since whale sharks can appear suddenly, divers should always be ready and respectful, ensuring that cameras are prepared without intrusive flash.

Seasonal Encounters and Top Diving Sites

Optimal Season: Whale sharks are typically spotted in the Red Sea during the warmer months, from May to August, when plankton concentrations are higher, attracting these giants to the nutrient-rich waters.

Top Diving Sites for Whale Sharks in the Red Sea:

  • Marsa Alam: Particularly around the Elphinstone Reef, Marsa Alam is renowned for its whale shark sightings, enhanced by the area’s abundant marine life feeding the plankton that the whale sharks feast upon.
  • Sha’ab Sataya (Dolphin Reef): Known for its large pods of dolphins, Sha’ab Sataya also attracts whale sharks feeding in its nutrient-rich waters.
  • St. John’s Reef: This remote area provides a serene environment with less boat traffic, increasing the chances of peaceful encounters with whale sharks.

In detail, sites like Elphinstone Reef offer clear blue waters where whale sharks are frequently seen, making for stunning visibility and photography opportunities. Sha’ab Sataya, on the other hand, not only promises whale shark sightings but also interactions with friendly dolphin pods. The secluded nature of St. John’s Reef, close to the border with Sudan, makes it a pristine spot for those looking to enjoy uninterrupted encounters with these magnificent creatures in a tranquil setting.

Tiger Sharks

Tiger sharks, named for the dark, vertical stripes found mainly on juveniles, are notable for their adaptability and diverse diet, making them one of the most well-known shark species globally. In the Red Sea, these formidable predators are prized sightings revered for their beauty and elusive nature.

They exhibit a broad, blunt snout and a robust body, with mature individuals often losing their stripey pattern and adopting a more uniform grey colouration. They can grow up to lengths of about 10 to 14 feet, with some exceptional adults exceeding 18 feet. Known for their powerful jaws and highly serrated teeth, tiger sharks can crush and slice through prey, including fish, seals, birds, and even smaller sharks.

Pro Tips for Diving with Tiger Sharks

  • Remain Alert: Watch the surroundings as tiger sharks can approach unobserved from the depths or behind.
  • Avoid Provocation: Movements should be smooth and non-threatening; rapid movements or splashes can potentially provoke curiosity or aggression.
  • Diving in Groups: It is advisable to dive in small groups, as tiger sharks are more likely to keep their distance when multiple divers are present.

Seasonal Encounters and Top Diving Sites

Seasonal Patterns: While tiger shark sightings in the Red Sea can happen year-round, they are more frequent during the late spring and early summer months when the water temperatures are optimal.

Top Diving Sites for Tiger Sharks in the Red Sea:

  • Brothers Islands: Known for its deep walls and strong currents, this area is a hotspot for encountering aquatic species, including tiger sharks.
  • Daedalus Reef: Offering beautiful coral formations and abundant marine life, this site provides the ecological diversity that attracts tiger sharks.
  • Elphinstone Reef: Another deep dive site where tiger sharks are occasionally sighted cruising along the steep outer walls.

Overall, the Brothers Islands serve as a natural magnet for tiger sharks due to the concentration of marine life fostered by the area’s complex underwater topography and currents. With its large and well-preserved coral structures, Daedalus Reef supports a rich biodiversity and creates an ideal hunting ground for tiger sharks. 

With its deep drop-offs, Elphinstone Reef provides a passageway for these sharks to traverse in search of food, making it another recommended spot for these encounters.

Leopard Sharks

Leopard sharks, known for their gorgeous markings and calm demeanour, are a splendid spectacle in the Red Sea’s aquatic world. These bottom-dwellers are often a favourite among underwater photographers and conservationists due to their unique appearance and non-aggressive nature toward humans.

Characteristics of Leopard Sharks in the Red Sea

Leopard sharks are easily recognizable by their sleek, elongated bodies covered in dramatic, leopard-like spots, which provide excellent camouflage against the sandy ocean floor. Typically, these sharks grow 4 to 5 feet long, though some individuals can be slightly larger. They have a flat, broad head with short snouts, ideal for scouring the seabed for food, which predominantly includes invertebrates and small fish.

Pro Tips for Diving with Leopard Sharks

  • Gentle Approach: Move slowly and calmly to avoid startling them. A gentle approach can encourage them to remain visible longer.
  • Observe from a Distance: While leopard sharks are not dangerous, maintaining a respectful distance ensures natural behaviour and minimizes stress for the animal.
  • Timing Your Dive: Early morning or late afternoon is preferable, as leopard sharks are more active during these times.

Seasonal Encounters and Top Diving Sites

Best Viewing Season: Leopard sharks can be spotted throughout the year in the Red Sea, but visibility is often best during the spring and fall months when the water is most evident.

Top Diving Sites for Leopard Sharks in the Red Sea:

  • Ras Mohammed National Park: Notable for its biodiversity, this park provides an excellent chance of spotting leopard sharks among the coral reefs and sandy bottoms.
  • Shark and Yolanda Reefs: These adjacent reefs offer rugged landscapes and abundant marine life, attracting leopard sharks that come to feed.
  • Sharm El Sheikh: This area, known for its clear waters and diverse marine habitats, is another ideal spot for leopard shark encounters.

Ras Mohammed National Park serves as a sanctuary not just for coral species but also for various shark types, including the leopard shark, which thrives among the nutrient-rich waters of the park. Shark and Yolanda Reefs provide the perfect environment with their mixed terrains of coral and sand, supporting a food chain that sustains leopard sharks. 

Meanwhile, Sharm El Sheikh stands out for its accessibility and various underwater environments. It is a favourite for novice and experienced divers looking to encounter these beautifully patterned sharks.

To Wrap it Up

If your scuba interests involve diving with one of nature’s most intriguing and long-lived species, the shark. Then, the Red Sea is a prime destination to have locked into your plans. Clear waters and colourful, abundant reefs provide the backdrop for meeting many of the planet’s apex predators.

We work with several inclusive dive operators in the region, ensuring that your vegan diver needs are cared for. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information or to discuss your next Red Sea scuba adventure!

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