Egyptian Dolphin Sanctuaries on the Rise
Watching and swimming with dolphins in their natural habitat has become very popular in the Hurghada area these last few years. The increase of these activities, in particular when unregulated, is highly likely to represent a serious threat to the wild dolphin populations inhabiting this region. Fanous is known to be a very critical habitat for Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) living in the waters around Hurghada. The animals are used to approaching the reef and entering its lagoon to spend hours (sometime the whole day) socializing and resting.
Boats, which are following the dolphins up and down the reef even in the shallow waters of the internal lagoon, have been proven to negatively influence the behaviour of the animals, increasing their speed and being disturbed during natural activities. Furthermore the zig-zag navigation of the boats happens in areas, where snorkelers and divers are present in high numbers, which arises more and more safety concerns.
To avoid that dolphin watching activities will push the animals to abandon the area (causing a major ecological and economical problem) the Governor of the Red Sea, General Mahmoud Assem, issued a very important decree for the protection of the wild dolphins: the south western area of Fanous Reef has been declared as a “safe zone”, where entrance or navigation has been completely prohibited for any vessel, small or large. The restricted area is now well marked by big white buoys that the HEPCA Mooring Team placed in the past weeks. Diving and snorkeling activities are still allowed and no fee is due. After Samadai, the Fanous area is the second example of a dolphin sanctuary established in Egypt, proving that a proper management is able to maintain this important resource for the future generation.
How can you contribute? If you witness a violation, please take a picture and immediately report it to HEPCA.
Please note that a Code of Conduct for dolphin watching has also been promoted and it is available in the HEPCA website.