Dolphin Conversation Hurghada

Important resting places for the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (tursiops aduncus) around Hurghada, Egypt

In reef areas like Fanous West and Shaab el Erg, numerous tourist boats and zodiacs pursue dolphins for extended periods on a daily basis, often approaching the animals without maintaining a safe distance. The current 'dolphin watching and swimming' tourist activity lacks respect for these wild animals, increasing the potential for injuries and stress to the bottlenose dolphins. Inattentive boat driving not only poses a serious risk to the dolphins but also endangers divers at the dive sites.

There have been serious concerns over the impact of tourism on cetaceans [1-3]. Studies show that dolphins change their behaviour, speed and movement, vocalization and even their group structure as a result of the presence of too many boats in close proximity [4-8]. This may have a strong impact on the survival of these highly intelligent animals, both at the individual and population level [6]. Data of the project “Dolphin Watch Natural Underwater Science” shows that the reef areas such as El Fanous , Abu Nugar and Shaab El Erg (Dolphin House) are important resting places for these dolphins. They are resting in the early morning hours till early afternoon and use the reef for protection after hunting all night in the open sea. 198 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) have been identified in the area of Hurghada by using photo-identification techniques. The disturbance by boat activity may be a serious threat as female dolphins usually nurse their calves while resting. Thus a reduction in the time spent resting could also reduce the time available for nursing, which could result in lower offspring survival [9].

Hurghada is a unique place to observe bottlenose dolphins in the wild. One of the greatest challenges of marine tourism is maintaining economic profitability while protecting and conserving the habitat and wildlife [10].

Only a healthy marine ecosystem can ensure the sustainability of Hurghada’s tourism industry. Thus, actions are absolutely necessary to prevent negative effects on Red Sea’s Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin population. It is imperative that appropriate policies are created and enforced.


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