Steve Connor: Bite marks key to identifying species responsible for death
Tuesday 07 December 2010
One of the first tasks of the experts sent into Sharm el-Sheikh will be to identify the species of shark responsible for the attacks on tourists, which led to the death of an elderly German woman.
Reports have suggested that the killer may have been an oceanic whitetip but the specialists in shark attacks will want a positive identification, possibly from studying the bite marks or teeth left in the flesh of its victims. "Sometimes sharks leave teeth behind because they are growing new ones and the older ones are easily dislodged in an attack. If teeth are left that will give a 100 per cent positive identification," said Bethan Gillett of the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainsville. "We can also look at the bite marks because that gives us some idea of the morphology of the teeth, which can also lead to a positive identification. Different sharks have different teeth morphology," Ms Gillett said.
Oceanic whitetips, a tropical and subtropical species, are not known to be aggressive to humans unless provoked, according to Ali Hood, the director of conservation at the Shark Alliance, a charity aimed at preserving shark numbers.
"Thousands of divers have dived with them and photographed them without being attacked. For sharks to behave in this way there must be a causal factor, and the Egyptians are doing the right thing by trying to assess what this factor is," Ms Hood said.
One report suggested that a ship carrying livestock had jettisoned the carcasses of dead animals, while other reports said that some illegal fishing boats had dumped dead bycatch close to shore. Either activity could have brought the sharks closer to the beach and then into contact with humans.
Wellcome Image Awards: The most striking images from the world of science, including breast cancer cells under chemical attack and a photographer’s own kidney stone
Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: 'All passengers' under investigation, police say
Bob Crow death: 'Admired by his members, feared by employers' - Tributes pour in for RMT union leader and 'working class hero' Bob Crow
Oscar Pistorius murder trial: Athlete repeatedly sick as court hears 'graphic details' of Reeva Steenkamp's post-mortem
How climate change helped Genghis Khan: Scientists believe a sudden period of warmer weather allowed the Mongols to invade with such success
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
The quiet diplomat: Catherine Ashton - recognised and admired in all the world’s troubled countries, yet ridiculed at home
- 1 Pakistan vs Paul Smith: Sandal-wearers bemused by famed British designer's attempts to sell traditional Peshawari chappal-style shoes for the distinctly untraditional sum of £300
- 2 Family forced to flee home after discovering 'terrifying' nest of spiders in bananas
- 3 First Kiss: Filmmaker gets 20 strangers to make out on YouTube with awkward results
£20000 - £23000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: Our client specialises in creati...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Private Cli...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residential...
£1000 per month: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ban...