The Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA) is a leading non-governmental organization (NGO) working in the field of marine and land conservation. Work together with members and partners HEPCA develops and maintains a large number of projects and campaigns that help to ensure the preservation and sustainability of the Red Sea environment for the future. As a non-profit organization, it relies on support from individuals and other organizations that believe in maximizing their contribution to our world. We believe that achieving a sustainable future requires objective scientific data from the field and that the scientific process must engage the general public if it is to change the world. To that end, we involve people from all walks of life directly in global field research.
Red Sea Dolphin Project
The Egyptian Red Sea south of Marsa Alam, where tourism is still in its early stages, seems to represent a rare example of unspoiled marine wilderness. Indications from previous dedicated research highlight that this largely untouched marine area is home to extraordinarily beautiful coral reefs, dolphins, dugongs, turtles, whale sharks, manta rays and other creatures, collectively known as marine “charismatic megafauna”. From what is known about development programmes, it is highly likely that the Southern coast of Egypt will be the object of “traditional” tourism development in the near to medium future, catering to mass tourism similar to that in Hurghada and Sharm-el-Sheikh, which is certain to lead to the decline and possibly the disappearance of its valuable habitats and associated flora and fauna. In contrast to the possibility described above, a brighter scenario can be imagined. Areas of highest ecological interest can be identified and steps taken to allow tourism development to proceed in a sustainable way that allows these endangered natural resources to continue to flourish.
This boat-based project intends to investigate the southern areas of the Red Sea with the main aims to contribute to the existing knowledge of Red Sea cetaceans and advance our understanding of their ecology and distribution.
To achieve this aim a marine mammal survey, both visual and acoustic, will be carried out, and volunteers will help on observation at sea and data collection. Passive acoustic monitoring is particularly useful for detecting offshore dolphins and during occasional night-time navigation. During the mammal survey, a monitoring of offshore reef will be carried out when the navigation is not possible due to bad sea state condition. The overall goal of this project is to provide high quality data that will supply detailed information on the abundances of all cetaceans, make possible the mapping of the habitat distributions of the key species, and allow us to underline potential threats.
This study will make valuable information available to policy makers and environmental managers. This information will include the development of widely-applicable management measures and a proposal for the development of a network of marine protected areas.