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What Kind of Sharks are in the Red Sea?

Updated on July 16, 2013

The Red Sea and the countries that border it

If you are planning a vacation to a seaside resort in Egypt, Sudan or Saudi Arabia, you may be wondering what kind of sharks are in the Red Sea that you should look out for?

The Red Sea is surrounded by mountains on all sides, and indeed consists of very deep water apart from a shallow ledge around the coastal resorts and villages.

This makes the water suitable for swimming near the shore, and a paradise for divers who want to explore the deep warm waters and coral reefs that grow so well in the Red Sea.

Shark diving excursions can be the highlight of your vacation, and there are many dive operators ready to take parties out into the deep Red Sea waters where you can be lowered into shark-infested waters from the safety of a cage.

Sharks lurk in the deeper waters by day, and come out to feed at dusk, unless tempted out by the chum thrown overboard by the shark dive operators.

As these deeper water are very near the coast, you could be splashing about in the shallow water with your family, completely unaware that a fearsome predator lurks nearby.

For this reason, it is safer not to swim in the sea between dusk and dawn. It is safer still to stay near to your hotel swimming pool and well away from the Red Sea.

So, what kinds of sharks are in the Red Sea, and are there any dangerous ones?

Kind of sharks in the Red Sea and their Danger Level

(click column header to sort results)
Shark Species  
Latin name  
Dangerous to humans  
Great White Shark
Carcharodon carcharias
Yes, VERY
Milk Shark
Rhizoprionodon acutus
No
Sharpnose sevengill shark
Heptranchias perlo
Potentially
Bigeye houndshark
Lago omanensis
No
Starspotted smooth-hound shark
Mustelus manazo
No
Arabian smooth-hound shark
Mustelus mosis
No
Whale shark
Rhincodon typus
No
Common Thresher Shark
Alopias vulpinus
No
Snaggletooth shark
Hemipristis elongatus
Potentially
Common Thresher Shark
Alopias vulpinus
No
Pelagic thresher shark
Alopias pelagicus
No
Silvertip shark
Carcharhinus albimarginatus
Potentially
Bignose shark
Carcharhinus altimus
Potentially
Grey reef shark
Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos
Potentially
Spinner shark
Carcharhinus brevipinna
Potentially
Silky shark
Carcharhinus falciformis
Potentially
Bull shark
Carcharhinus leucas
Yes, VERY
Blacktip shark
Carcharhinus limbatus
Yes
Oceanic whitetip shark
Carcharhinus longimanus
Yes
Blacktip reef shark
Carcharhinus melanopterus
Potentially
Dusky shark
Carcharhinus obscurus
Potentially
Sandbar shark
Carcharhinus plumbeus
Potentially
Spottail shark
Carcharhinus sorrah
No
Tiger shark
Galeocerdo cuvier
Yes, VERY
Sicklefin lemon shark
Negaprion acutidens
No
Whitetip reef shark
Triaenodon obesus
Potentially
Tawny nurse shark
Nebrius ferrugineus
No
Shortfin mako
Isurus oxyrinchus
Potentially
Scalloped hammerhead
Sphyrna lewini
No
Great hammerhead
Sphyrna mokarran
Potentially
Smooth hammerhead
Sphyrna zygaena
Yes
Zebra shark
Stegostoma fasciatum
No
Sand Tiger Shark
Carcharias taurus
Yes


As you can see from the chart, all three of the most dangerous sharks in the world inhabit the Red Sea, as well as a multitude of others, some dangerous and others less so.

The known really dangerous sharks are the great white, the tiger and the bull shark, and all three are present in the Red Sea.

The sharks labelled as 'potentially' dangerous are a mixture of the following:

  • Big fish with sharp teeth that hardly ever come into human contact.
  • Small fish with sharp teeth that have been known to bite when disturbed.
  • Small fish with sharp teeth that have been known to join in a 'feeding frenzy' and bite anything that moves multiple times.

You are highly unlikely to meet any of them unless you are actually in the water at some point, in which case it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the kind of sharks that live in the Red Sea.

As some are completely harmless, it is a good idea to learn which ones they are. On the other hand, if you treat all Red Sea sharks as potentially dangerous, you are more likely to stay safe.

Gulf of Eilat, Red Sea
Gulf of Eilat, Red Sea | Source

Shark Diving in Red Sea

Knowing the kinds of sharks that are in the Red Sea is important for people who want to swim with sharks, or cage-dive with sharks.

This is a tremendous experience, getting up close to those amazing fish.

It is very important when swimming with sharks that you never annoy a shark, or be tempted to pull on its tail, perhaps to get it to turn round for a photo opportunity.

Sharks are potentially very dangerous creatures.

Their bodies are made from cartilage. This gives them the strength and dexterity to whip their heads right round to their tail lightning quick.

So your pulling or poking on its tail could easily result in you losing your hand, should the shark take offence

Sharks teeth are mainly designed for slicing and they can take your hand right off with one bite.

If you are offered the use of a shark cage, use it. Do not be tempted to put your hand out through the cage to stroke the shark.

Sharks are magnificent animals, but please give them all the respect they deserve.

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