If you, Tethys fellow colleagues and followers, may be somehow used to encounter mysticetes, in Egyptian waters we haven’t had the chance to spot them yet; so, when we received a call reporting humpback whales off Hurghada, our first reaction was “Oh come on, that is impossible!!” Luckily, images and videos were provided and the sighting was actually confirmed. This encounter, immediately brought to the public attention, tells us -researchers trying to assess abundance, distribution, presence and conservation status of cetacean in the Red Sea as well as members of the Red Sea caring community- two things: first of all, that “impossible” is a relative concept and, second, that our expectations and approaches are based on a pretty weak baseline. The surprise about this sighting, amazing and rare and surely awesome, reveals also something less romantic: what do we really know about these waters? The Egyptian Red Sea has been, in general, poorly investigated from a scientific point of view and, with urbanization and tourism industry growing fast along its shore, this “ignorance” is hampering many conservation initiatives. How can we protect if we don’t know what is out there? From this simple question, the Egyptian NGO HEPCA started, a year ago, an exhaustive research project targeting the marine megafauna: turtles, sharks and marine mammals are now the focus of our studies and we started understanding more about their ecology. There is still much to discover though! The Red Sea Dolphin Project is ready to set sail and carry out its second winter season, sailing the Southern Egyptian Red Sea on board the research vessel, monitoring cetaceans’ presence as well as enjoying the underwater coral reefs in pristine areas.
The project is open to eco- volunteers from all over the world willing to engage and assist with the research. What are your plans for the coming months? If you are interested in joining, please take a look at the RSDP blog and do not hesitate to contact us for further information.
Amina, Marina, Madda
HEPCA Red Sea Dolphin Project
photo by Sandra Caramelle