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Green Team
orca dive club has been working hard for the last three years its resident dugongs and turtles. This has made the Red Sea one of
with staff and guests to help to protect the important dugong only a few places in the world where the dugong is protected, all
habitat of abu dabab. thanks to the volunteer work of divers here.
Small in numbers and extremely shy and elusive, dugongs are a rare The habitat of Abu Dabab faces many threats, such as pollution
edition in divers’ logbooks. In a small area of coastline on the Egyptian from building projects, including dredging in the area and it needs
Red Sea, however, divers have some of the best chances of coming continuous protection. The dugong is also prone to injury from boat
face-to-nose with the gentle sea cow. traffic, with many displaying evidence of propeller scars on their
These bizarre-looking mammals – the cousin of the more abundant
and familiar manatee –grow up to 4m in length and feed on two For nearly three years a zoning line has been in place to prevent
types of seagrass. Both of these seagrass types are found around the boat traffic inside the bay. All moorings have also been removed to
sheltered, sandy bay of Abu Dabab, near Marsa Alam, around 70km stop overnight stays by safari boats. Access from the shore is allowed
south of Hurghada on the mainland Egyptian Red Sea coastline. within the bay, but the number of visiting divers is subject to strict
Just seven dugongs are thought to exist between El Qusier and
Sudan, with the majority of sightings recorded in Abu Dabab. The low As well as helping HEPCA to protect the bay from boat traffic by
population of the species around Egypt’s shores reflects on a global laying lines and monitoring the area, Orca Dive Club continues
scale. The dugong has been classified as vulnerable to extinction for to assist with studies on the dugong. The centre is also in regular
nearly two decades and is now a permanent fixture on the World contact with the International Institute of Oceanography and Fishery
Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List of threatened species. which is currently researching dugong in Australia.
Orca Dive Club in Abu Dabab teamed up with conservation group The team at Orca Dive Club carefully monitors diving encounters
Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association with the dugongs and have even affectionately named each of the
(HEPCA) in 2007 to help protect the delicate habitat Abu Dabab and creatures encountered on a near-daily basis.
Issue 4 January - February ‘10
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