Whale shark makes rare appearance in Hurghada

Red Sea divers have spotted the appearance of a rare whale shark on Saturday near the Fanadir area in front of the beaches of Hurghada.

The Egyptian and foreign divers present at the scene took photos and swam with the animal.

Officials of marine environment preservation societies warned against attempting to touch, ride or chase the whale shark, as well as trying to change the course of its movement. They urged all divers to allow it to move and act normally and maintain a distance of at least three meters in front of it and four meters from behind it to avoid injury for divers and the whale shark.

Marine science specialists said that the repeated appearance of the whale shark in the Red Sea is a rare and unique event, and that not harming or chasing it encouraged it to stay.

In 2018, a whale shark appeared several times in three different parts of the Red Sea, including Port Ghalleb, al-Fanous, and between the two islands of Giftun, according to Red Sea Reserves manager Ahmed Ghallab.

This shark likely entered the sea from the Indian Ocean through Bab al-Mandab to the Red Sea, Ghallab said.

Marine biologists consider the appearance of the animal a rare event, one that demonstrates the success of efforts to protect the Red Sea’s environment, as well as Egypt’s commitment to international agreements in this regard, which led the whale shark to settle in the Red Sea.

The whale shark owes its name to its gargantuan size, with the largest adults reaching up to 13 meters in length, making them among the largest species of fish. As they primarily feed on plankton, they pose no danger to humans.

Hunting whale sharks is banned in Egypt, since the species is endangered. Concerted efforts have been made to preserve the Red Sea ecosystem, which is the habitat of several other rare and endangered species.

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