Shark (illustrative)
Shark (illustrative)Credit: Thinkstock

A tiger shark has been spotted off the coast of the southern Israeli city of Eilat in recent days, a week and a half after a Russian man was killed off the coast of Egypt in the Red Sea in an attack by another tiger shark.

Nature and Parks Authority inspector Amos Barti spotted a tiger shark yesterday while snorkeling near the north beach in Eilat.

Dr. Assaf Zebuloni, Gulf of Eilat ecologist at the Nature and Parks Authority, commented: "In the last week, there have been several documented reports of a tiger shark roaming along the Eilat beaches. Yesterday the shark photographed came very close to the shore and entered the bathing area of the north shore."

"Tiger sharks are found naturally in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Eilat and as apex predators, they are an important part of the ecosystem of the Gulf of Eilat. However, they are relatively rare and sightings of them are rarely reported. The presence of the shark in our area has raised quite a few questions about whether and how dangerous it is to enter the sea in Eilat."

On June 8, 23-year-old Russian citizen Vladimir Popov was savagely mauled to death by a 10-foot-long female tiger shark at the Hurghada resort on the Red Sea in a rare predatory shark attack on a human. The shark was subsequently caught and beaten to death by locals. Popov's remains were found in the shark's stomach.

Tiger sharks are considered one of the three most dangerous shark species to humans, attaining sizes similar to the great white shark. They have a reputation for eating anything. Tiger sharks are responsible for 142 unprovoked attacks on humans, including 39 fatal attacks, according to the International Shark Attack File.

Tiger sharks were also responsible for fatal attacks on two female tourists in Hurghada days apart last year.

Shark attacks are rare in general, and are especially rare in Israel. There have been only eight recorded shark attacks off the coasts of Israel dating back to before the founding of the State. Of these, five were unprovoked, and none have been fatal. Tiger sharks have not been named in any of these attacks.

The most recent shark attack in Israel occurred in 2019, when a shark bit the flipper of a snorkel diver near the Hadera power plant, where endangered sandbar and dusky sharks gather due to the hot water released but the plant.