14 Dec2011

Dolphin Sanctuary Declared in Hurghada!

Dolphin Sanctuary Declared in Hurghada!


It gives us great pleasure to strongly commend the Governor of the Red Sea, General Mahmoud Assem, for his decision to protect the Indo-pacific dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) population in the Hurghada area. Over the past years the amount of stress exerted upon this population by the tourism industry has been phenomenal, with unregulated and unsustainable dolphin watching and swimming-with activities happening on daily basis. The first step for the protection of this species has just been taken: the Red Sea Governor’s Decree 379/2011 has established the south western area of Fanous Reef as a “safe zone” where all vessels, large and small, are banned from entering at this sensitive ecological hotspot. Diving and snorkeling activities can take place within the “safe zone” as long as best practices for dolphin watching are abided by (you can find the general guidelines for dolphin watching on HEPCA’s website). This much needed decision was taken after the harassment of dolphins in the wild in the past had become far too prevalent at Fanous Reef; vessels posed a serious threat to dolphins as well as snorkels and divers at the site. The new safe zone decreed by the governor will provide a sanctuary for the dolphin population and allow visitors to interact with them in a healthy and safe manner –with no associated fees-, at a location that is considered to be a critical habitat as it is regularly used by Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins for socializing and potentially resting. The safe zone is displayed on the map below and the HEPCA mooring team shall place demarcation buoys to signify the boundaries of the “safe zone” within the coming week. We ask all operators to conform to this decree and report any witnessed violations via the HEPCA website. This milestone achievement is the fruit of the local community’s care and attention for conservation of key species, in particular it is most due to the information on dolphins’ presence and ecology collected within a long-term scientific project carried out by Angela Ziltener and supported by Mashrabeya Diving Center. For more information about the research efforts undertaken in Hurghada area, please check the DolphinWatch programme on HEPCA website.

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