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In light of the uproar caused by images, widely circulated on social media, of sharks swimming off the coast of Lebanon, the National Council for Scientific Research-Lebanon (CNRS-L) aims to provide reassurance: the sharks found in Lebanese waters are not dangerous.

Videos and pictures of sharks swimming off the coast of Lebanon, have caused quite an uproar on social media. Consequently, increasing calls to kill the sharks in order to protect the population have sprung up, especially after the spreading of terrifying images of a shark attacking a tourist in the Red Sea, Egypt. However, according to the National Center for Marine Sciences (NCMS) of the National Council for Scientific Research-Lebanon (CNRS-L), the sharks present in Lebanese waters do not pose a threat.

The Sharks, Far Off from the Swimmers’ Area

The NCMS clarified in a statement that, as being the organism in charge of monitoring marine biodiversity since 2013, including sharks and rays, it has been able to “develop vast information about sharks and rays in the Lebanese marine environment.” Through experimental fishing surveys and fish market monitoring, researchers at the Center have documented the presence of 13 species of sharks. The latter have been captured in Lebanese coastal waters at depths ranging from 10 to 600 meters, thereby far off from areas where swimmers can be found. These areas generally do not exceed a few meters.

Importance of Sharks to Marine Biodiversity 

According to the NCMS, as primary predators, sharks play a crucial role in the stability and balance of marine ecosystems by regulating fish populations. However, numerous shark species present in the Mediterranean Sea, including Lebanon, are endangered due to overfishing and the breakdown of their environment on account of human activities and pollution. Although most sharks are not directly targeted by fishermen, they are often accidentally captured as bycatches, and seldom released back into the water.

Furthermore, climate change is impacting marine ecosystems at various levels, especially in the Mediterranean Sea, which is also subject to the influence of invasive species following the expansion of the Suez Canal. In addition, the warming-up of seawater and the phenomenon of ocean acidification are critically impacting marine ecosystems and shark species.

No Tiger Sharks in Lebanon

In line with the statement issued by the CNRS-L, the presence of these cartilaginous fish close to the coasts is a normal phenomenon. It is due to several factors, such as the proximity to certain warm areas near the beaches, or hunting for preys which have become scarce in deeper waters due to overfishing and ecological imbalance. According to the NCMS document, shark attacks are extremely rare, and are generally provoked by humans. However, if swimmers encounter a shark of some kind, it would not be advisable to interact with it. It should be noted that the recent shark attack that occurred in Egypt was caused by a tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier), a specimen that is not found in the Mediterranean Sea, and has not been detected in Lebanese waters.

If you have any information regarding shark sightings, you can contact the CNMS through their Facebook page: