Important resting places for the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (tursiops aduncus) around Hurghada, Egypt
In reef areas such as Fanous West and Shaab el Erg multiple tourist boats and zodiacs daily follow the dolphins for several hours (see video below). Boats often approach directly right into the group of animals without maintaining any safety distance. Immense numbers of tourists jump from the boats directly into the group of dolphins.
The present “dolphin watching and swimming” activity is often performed without any respect for the wild living animals and injuries and stress of the bottlenose dolphins is not consciously taken into account. Inattentive boat driving is not only a serious risk for the dolphins but also divers on the dive sites are in danger.
There have been serious concerns over the impact of tourism on cetaceans [1-3]. Studies show that dolphins change their behavioral activities, speed and movement, vocalization and even their group structure as a result of the presence of too many boats that come into 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 . 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 during 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 mainly 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 .
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 .
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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