Satayah Survey 2014

The team is back to land. We just spent 15 days in Satayah Reef, 2 hours navigation off Hamata Marina. The site is known to be a resting area for spinner dolphins and has grown as a very popular swim-with dolphin destination.

Swim with dolphins, what an experience! The dream of a lifetime! And, in fact, many seize the opportunity to live this incredible experience during their holidays here in the Egyptian Red Sea.

All good, understandable enthusiasm…on the other hand, we might have a problem. Unfortunately, interactions are not regulated in Satayah: there is no limit to how close, for how long, how many people, zodiac, boats can engage, impose, attempt an interaction with the animals.

Pantagruelian, unrestrained, over excessive tourist attitudes emerged.

Examples worldwide indicate that scenarios in which nothing is ever enough and moderation is a forgotten virtue often drain the wildlife, exploit the magic and, eventually, end up killing the tourism operations. The future of Satayah is not written yet, but I really believe we should intervene in the next few months to introduce some sort of management before it is too late.

The first step is to better understand Satayah tourism and dolphin responses: we collected data on dolphin behaviours and observed daily tourism practices.

We had very quiet and very busy days, calm and crowded hours; we recorded dolphins in the lagoon or its proximity every day. We often had spinner and indopacific bottlenose dolphins, common bottlenose have showed up right outside the reef. We had green turtles and ospreys, napoleon fish, hornets and a hoopoe.

This place is unique indeed.

Again, unfortunately, this beautiful site is not (yet) treated as carefully as it should be: approaches by zodiac and boats seem always too fast, too close, too vehement, too stressing; visitors seem to be into a dolphin trance that deprive them of the basic common sense; some guides clearly know very little about the way this specific dolphins in this specific site should be dealt with.

The survey has been, as usual, very intense. The pictures below capture only some of our memories but I hope you will enjoy them…More are available on the photo album on our Facebook page and –surprise, surprise- a video blog is to be uploaded soon!

I am incredibly grateful to Valentina, Suzanna, Ahmed, Sylvan, Natalie, Salma, Amy and Blair for personal, work and emotional contribution; I would like to thank the crews of “Queeny” and “Aqua Blue 3” for taking care of us.

The surveys are carried out with the support of the University of Otago, the Rufford Small Grant Foundation, Boomerang for Earth Conservation and HEPCA. Many thanks to all individuals who have participated to our crowd funding campaign. The campaign is still on, consider making a small donation and help us carry out all activities planned for this season! All info here.

Cheers,

Madda

 

Dolphins in the lagoon. By Sylvan Oehen.

Dolphins in the lagoon. By Sylvan Oehen.

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Spinner dolphin jumps in the lagoon. By Sylvan Oehen.

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Small portion of a large pod. Copyright HEPCA.

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Mixed species encounter in the open sea: spinner and pantropical spotted dolphins! Copyright HEPCA.

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Pantropical newborn!! Copyright HEPCA.

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Valentina Cucchiara (Liquid Jungle Media) in action!

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Last evening surprise cake! Many thanks to the crew..or crow 🙂

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Incredible sunrise with full moon still up in the sky. Copyright HEPCA.

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Dolphin watching and swimming with spinner dolphins. Copyright HEPCA.

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Observation from the research platform. Copyright HEPCA.

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Team 3. Copyright HEPCA.

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Turtle resting area? Copyright HEPCA.

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Zodiacs ready to deploy swimmers right on top of a small group of dolphins. Copyright HEPCA.

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