This time it is pretty hard to draft memories of what the last team has been. Team 19 will be remembered as the weirdest combo of passionate sailors, terrible weather and a ridiculous number of sightings.
We definitely had a lot of fun… and a lot of wind.
Sea conditions were not really favourable but we managed to cover large parts of the study area from Marsa Alam south to Wadi El Gemal, and we were soaked by a good Douglas 4 on the observation deck on our way back north.. ”By the way, who is this Douglas everyone is talking about?!”
We had an amazing crew, and they took good care of an amazing group.
We could not spot any dolphins in the open sea, but when we arrived in Satayah reef, after sailing the foggiest Red Sea we have ever seen, we heaved a sigh of relief. Spinner dolphins in the lagoon, and a pretty large group, too! Finally!
Since last year we have started a dedicated data collection protocol in this beautiful gull-wings shaped reef, which is often visited by spinner dolphins. This shall help us to better understand their ecology and appreciated short-term reactions to the frequent human impacts existing there, known to have detrimental effects on wild populations when not properly managed. Sometimes, witnessing people or boats approaching the dolphins incorrectly (at least as common sense would suggest), we hardly believe that both animals and visitors actually enjoy the encounter!
The least we can do is to provide tools for monitoring the situation in order to be able to propose possible interventions in the near future.
The Cetacean Research Unit was also joined by Islam and Mahmoud undertaking their training on marine mammal research: they are marine scientists and rangers from Elba National Park (basically, Egyptian Red Sea south of Ras Banas). Next summer they will be working in their coastal areas carrying out a sort of spin-off of the RSDP which will complete the picture: they will explore those islands and sites that we don’t usually cover. We could never thank them enough for the endless help and support.
Altogether, we had the chance to discuss various topics, going from code of conducts to crown of thorns, from turtles to eco-tourism, from coral identification (ouch!) to Ric O’Barry and “The Cove”, from marine mammals to Mamma Mia.
We sailed, again, as always happens, on a productive and proactive microcosmos.
We thank you all, you were terrific and passionate. Simply cool. And you made all this happen. We thank the crew for taking good care of us, from 6 in the morning until midnight, with our weird requests and unusual pieces of equipment. And we thank our communication officer Urte, who joined the expedition for a few days and did a great job!
We are happy and satisfied. Hope you can say the same!
And now it is time to hit the road again, Marsa Alam here we come..