Our Blog


09 Jun2022

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The current state of affairs of the Hurghada Archipelago IBA.

Author: Nader Gebril

It is high season for the breeding birds on the northern islands of the red sea, now it is about time to use all the built-up fat from eating the baitfish and to invest in mating rituals, nesting materials collection and hopefully offspring-rearing.

 

Bridled Terns off Giftun Island.
Bridled Terns

Sooty Gull off Tawila Island. 

Sooty Gull

 


The Northern Islands of the Red Sea are considered as a safe refuge to many species of seabirds as well as sea turtles, an IBA (Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas) recognized by Birdlife International as “Hurghada Archipelago”. Many birds invest in feeding and stocking up on nutrients all year around for a greater cause to pass their genes to an offspring, thus outliving their current life through another generation of younger copies, a biological endeavour we all like to perfect someday. 

 A cotillion of Terns in Magawish Island.
White-cheeked Terns

 A lone Brown Bobby off Giftun. 
Brown Bobby


The islands were considered a haven to birds, turtles, plants, and lizards, but anthropogenic pressures and the allotments for recreational activities are currently undermining the nesting populations of the formerly mentioned cohabitants, not only human activities but also human-related problems such as rat infestation, namely the Norway Rat, Rattus norvegicus, a culprit to the dwindling numbers of many islands’ inhabitants globally and a true menace to the Egyptian islands’ biodiversity.  

 

Although, the pressures that face biodiversity in a global sense are dire, but one can always be the help and not the problem. Birds, turtles, skinks and even crabs have the right to live and to reproduce, so whenever on the islands enjoying what the Red Sea has to offer, pretty please Live and Let Live.
 

 

29 May2022

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Sharks are our national treasure a.k.a Egyptian Shark Week

Author: Nader Gebril

The idea of Shark Week was developed in the 1980’s to counteract the anti-shark sentiments due to the famous movie Jaws and to promote the conservation of Sharks, especially Great White Sharks, and looking into sharks as a great source of wonder and reverence and not fear or havoc.

 

“Let’s catch them all big or small” A decision was made, late at night by high officials and a team was set to catch all the alleged shark(s) that caused the craze in 2010, a team of once-were-fishermen and enthusiastic park rangers set sail for the sea to bait sharks in the vicinity of the attacks and the famous places for shark observation, 27 sharks were caught only two of them were held accountable for the attacks, through the only way possible at then, open them up and have a looksee.

 The first was a short fin mako and the second one was an oceanic whitetip.

 

 The Mako shark of 2010 Fin                                            


One of the fishermen told me that most of the sharks he “opened” were starving and some of them even had trash in their stomachs. Which supports one of the theories formulated at then attributing the shark attacks to the scarcity in fish and prey items due to competition with unsustainable fishing practices, or the real culprit is an amalgamation of all of them theories, like for instance the sacrificed sheep chum in Eid Al-Adha attracted the sharks to the already poor-void-of-prey-items waters but the reef fishes would be easy to catch and sufficient for the sharks survival plus the nourishment or the tease of nourishment a shark may roam the vicinity of a certain dive centre that feeds chicken thighs to sharks in order to make dreams come true for shoestring travellers Jaws shot just for 1.99$.  

 

Oceanic Whitetip Shark in Marsa Alam

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                      

A school of Scaloped Hammerheads




 
 

Shark attacks happening in Australia are on the rise, maybe due to the problem with bleached reefs, water sport activities encroaching where the sharks are roaming, a change in the feeding behaviour of sharks due to the competition amongst different shark species over the same recourses, depletion of the fish stocks due to the fishing pressures or simply the associated crustacea and herbivore fish community with coral health, thus overall fish stock. Those factors should be taken into consideration to prevent any accident and possibly maximize on such national treasure, Sharks.

 

22 May2022

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Angling and commercial fishing activities in the Red Sea

Author: Nader Gebril

Neglected fishing lines suffocate the biodiversity in the Red Sea! 

Bad fishing practices create issues for management and conservation in the Red Sea as bycatch, pollution, habitat impacts, biodiversity loss etc…

Ghost nets in the Red Sea are one of the most hazardous wastes affecting marine life. The sturdy plastic monofilament line is rarly seen and possibly taken for granted by marine animals, which later results in entanglement loops that become a "death trap" or a " noose" around the turtles, dolphins, coral polyps, fish or even birds vital organs. Due to the sturdiness of the plastic lines, that were once used for the same reason to bear the weights and the drag force during fishing, they remain intact indefinitely and possibly cause death to the Red Sea charismatic marine life. 

A mistake is so costly to rectify. And definitely a preventable action, with patroling and proper communication of the message through the governing bodies.




 

11 May2022

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Entangled dolphins in the Red Sea

Author: Nader Gebril

PLEASE DO NOT APPROACH ENTANGLED DOLPHINS WITHOUT PLAN/or TEAM OF DOLPHIN EXPERTS. 

 

Approaching dolphins need to be done through experts and a BIG team not just a one man show. Mind you, harassing entangled dolphins only makes it harder for the actual experts to do their work, as every failed trial to catch them, makes the dolphins too shy for experts to approach them, thus eventually giving them the help they actually need. 

 

We are happy that people care for the environment and the natural resources of the Red Sea as much as us but please be advised sometimes taking matters into your hands is not the way to go, to be taken with a grain of salt.  

 

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Dolphins and other wildlife can go through what is called a Capture Myopathy, so if anyone without suitable expertise can put them through the danger of dying out of stress, literally!

 

Saving one dolphin is a great deal but removing the cause of their demise is even greater deal, aka long line fishing at night where they start feeding and take advantage of the fish on the fishing lines.

 

18 Apr2022

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What is coral transplantation?

Author: Nader Gebril

On Coral Transplantation..

What is coral transplantation?

According to the commonly used definition of ecological restoration is that of the Society for Ecological Restoration, which describes it as “the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degradeddamagedor destroyed”

 

 A recent definition of “restoration” for coral reef systems as “any active intervention that aims to assist the recovery of reef structurefunctionand key reef species in the face of rising climate and anthropogenic pressures, therefore promoting reef resilience and the sustainable delivery of reef ecosystem services

 

Does the operation address the reef resilience and the sustainable delivery of reef ecosystem services?

1- In case of sourcing via targeted fragmentation of already established corals which is many of the initiatives in the Red Sea, then NO!
 

 Since Coral Gardening is asexual growth of harvested corals, this is worrying, given the core concept of ecological restoration that assisting natural recovery processes is the most reliable way to achieve recovery. And most the transplantation process relies on the Asexual growth of the fragmented corals in-situ (over the reef) or ex-situ (in a tub/tank or aquarium on land). This process as it may share in the growth of the coral visually, but not necessarily the strength in genetic variation or resilience especially if the harvested stocks are from affected coral communities and deteriorated reefs.

 

2- If the site has already established corals, the additional colonies may be increasing the long-established natural density in a non-sustainable way “Reef Rehabilitation Manual, Page 105”.

Researchers agreed that the survivorship ration of the transplanted corals is governed with the transplanted coral species and the local environmental conditions. ; Kotb et al 2003

3- The species A. variabilis and A. digitifera (45%) after 24 months, these species are highly sensitive to handling during transplantation on to one of the unsuitable parameters as sedimentation rate.
 

 

4- Out of a precautionary principle, non-specialized individuals would run schemes for “Coral Restoration/Gardening” by haphazardly fragmenting already viable corals and plant them in unstudied sites or just for the propaganda of “Restoring the Reefs”, thus self-interest.

 

 

 

References

1- International principles and standards for the practice of ecological restoration. Second edition. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/rec.13035

2- Survivorship and growth rates for some transplanted coral reef building species and their potential for coral reef rehabilitation in the Red Sea. https://ejabf.journals.ekb.eg/article_30291_3d340665227041fcb9ace592077745a0.pdf

3- Transplantation of corals as an approach to rehabilitate the degraded reefs in the Egyptian Red Sea. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/276175542_Transplantation_of_corals_as_an_approach_to_rehabilitate_the_degraded_reefs_in_the_Egyptian_Red_Sea
 

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