EGYPT – The Red Sea Sharks are terrorizing the Middle East.  Thirty people – all Russians – have been mauled.

It began ten days ago when the normally pristine tropical waters turned a murky red, after sharks mauled five Russians in one day.

The Red Sea Sharks are out for blood and they’re going after Russians!

With the world-renowned snorkel and dive center heading into the holiday high season, local governor Mohammed Shosha closed off the beaches of Sharm el-Sheikh for 48 hours, during which time the authorities killed fifteen vicious, Russian-killing sharks.

He then declared the all clear and reopened the beaches. But within 24 hours, it became brutally clear that Shosha had been wrong: a Russian woman standing chest-deep in the water was killed by another shark.

“We did some efforts last week but I think we failed,”  Pavro Shemka, director of the Tourism Authority. He acknowledged that the sharks responsible for the killings are still at large. The resort, which Egyptian authorities say draws some 4 million tourists every year, has become the site of an international biological murder mystery.

Over six days, fifty-five swimmers were attacked by sharks. That compares to just six attacks over the previous decade in Egypt, according to the Global Shark Attack File, a scientific archive that documents shark attacks worldwide. And at least six of those 11 incidents are believed to have involved the solitary oceanic whitetip – shark species that doesn’t usually rank among the top killers.

More startling still is that the clear, coral-rimmed waters off Sharm el-Sheikh aren’t exactly shark central. “The last sharks I saw were maybe four or five months ago,” says Sherrif Khairat, a local dive instructor, who leads two or three dives a day. A shark sighting is considered “lucky,” he says, because the animals are so rare.

Why are they going after Russians?  Khairat said that over the years he has noticed that the sharks seemed drawn to Russians, probably because it is a “red” country and the sharks somehow know that.  “If we have Americans, Egyptians, Israelis and South Americans in the water with Russians, the sharks will only attack the Russians. It happens every time.”

Less than two weeks after the first of the series of attacks, scientists are still scratching their heads as to what motivated the Red Sea Shark rampage. They say there has never been proof of a shark acquiring a taste for human flesh, particularly Russian flesh, but there are no absolutes in science. They say the serial-killer shark is a member of a migratory species that often travels dozens of miles in a single day.

Egyptian authorities now plan to enforce the ban on swimming and water sports indefinitely – with exceptions made for expert divers and protected swimming areas.  They are also creating “Russian only” diving areas – for the safety of the other tourists.

There is a sheep hypothesis to the shark killings.  Last month, Muslims celebrated Islam’s Feast of the Sacrifice, during which it is traditional for each family to slaughter a sheep – and the extra demand requires that many more sheep are imported.

So, perhaps the Red Sea Sharks are celebrating by slaughtering Russians.  “Makes sense,” said Khairat.

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