Dahab Reef Monitoring Project 2018

Coral Reef Conservation for the Red Sea

Join now!

 

  DRM

Dates

DRM2018-Ia: 31. March - 21. April 2018

DRM2018-Ib: 21. April - 12. May 2018

DRM2018-IIa: 11. August - 1. September 2018

DRM2018-IIb: 1. - 22. September 2018

(Date = arrival date, training starts usually one day later)

Introduction
In cooperation with REEF CHECK Europe, the Red Sea Environmental Centre (RSEC) in Dahab, South Sinai, initiated a reef monitoring programme with approval from the National Parks' authority (Nature Conservation Sector / Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency). The RSEC in Dahab has designed a reef-monitoring programme based on an extension of the standard Reef Check procedure. The aim of the extended Protocol is to provide more well defined data describing the status of coral reef health with respect to anthropogenic and natural impacts.

Team size
The Dahab Reef Monitoring needs a team of at least 8 volunteers for adequate implementation.  An assemblage of 2 teams of 8 volunteers each would be preferable.

Eligibility
Members of the Dahab Reef Monitoring Team should meet the following requirements:

Diving experience:

  • Minimum certification of Advanced Open Water brevets or equivalent from renowned diving associations (e.g. CMAS, SSI, PADI) is recommended
  • Minimum number of 25 logged dives is recommended
  • We offer Open Water Diver courses and training dives for uncertified divers. You need to arrive at least 12 days before project start

Desired biological experience:

  • Advanced student in biology, or
  • Master degree in biology, or
  • Divemaster or dive instructor well familiarized with reef biology and ecology
  • Having participated in Reef Check surveys (or other ecological surveys) earlier
  • Reef Check EcoDiver is required*

*For all participants the Reef Check EcoDiver Specialty Training is required.

 

DRM

 

DRM

DRM

DRM

DRM

DRM


Costs
5 weeks packages includes: accommodation, 40 project dives, training, airport shuttles and 1 boat trip 960*,- € per Person

2 weeks packages includes: accommodation, 20 dives, training, airport shuttles and 1 boat trip 730*,- € per Person

*Price is excluding diving equipment! You can rent full dive equipment (except dive computer) for 5 € (+10 % sales tax) per dive at Sinai Divers Backpackers.

Application procedure (long-term volunteers of 5 weeks or more)
Please send a short e-mail with CV to chrisvonmach(at)redsea-ec.org. We will send you confirmation and invoice as soon as possible.

 

 

 

DRM

DRM


Dahab Reef Monitoring II - Fourth week

Time for another weekly report full of experience we earned and excitement we lived.
After we completed training last week, this week we dived right into the surveys. The real work so to say. We have been to the sites Canyon North and Canyon South and finished each at  5m and 10m. Even though we were only three people doing the surveys we managed great. The spirit within the team is amazing. We also went for our first clean up dive. We collected some trash (soda cans, fishing net and others). When Nico picked up a soda can,  a grey moray eel’s head  all of a sudden poked out of the opening. He was very reluctant to move out of his new home, but we finally managed to relocate him to another home beneath some corals. Another survey took place at the dive site Lighthouse which is only a few hundred meters away from the office. Right now it is probably the most busy dive site close by.

In the evening hours we spent our time here or there, because there are many nice placed to have dinner at, to go to for games night or karaoke for the once who like to do so. Night dives are also one of our favourite things to do in the evenings. Our last night dive included Spanish dancers, flatworms, banded sole, lots of different shrimp species, anemone hermit crabs, sea stars and sea pens, just to mention a few.  A special journey was our trip up the mountain to Saint Katherine. 2400m high mountain terrain only partly reachable by camel, walking during the night reaching the top just before sunrise – what an amazing experience! Almost a must do while staying here.

 

DRM2016

 

DRM2016

DRM2016

DRM2016

DRM2016


Dahab Reef Monitoring II - Third week

Hello from Dahab! The first two weeks of the Dahab Reef Monitoring are over. During the past days we finished the theory about the indicator fishes, invertebrates, substrates and the coral damage. We also passed all written tests and the underwater tests. With the new experienced we learned, underwater and at the surface, we should be ready for the surveys! We are looking forward to starting with the proper monitoring and to check out the different dive sites around Dahab.

Although we had a lot of theory, the lessons were really interesting and informative. The mixture between the theory and the training dives (or other different tasks) was perfect. On the training dives we learned a lot about all indicator organisms and learned the skill to recognize these indicators. And sometimes we had the luck on our side during the trainings dives – during the underwater test (fish & invertebrates) we saw a nice eagle ray passing by, just a few meters next to us in Bannerfish Bay!!! For sure we stopped immediately with the test to observe, but it was really fast, such a beautiful and elegant animal... it was unbelievable!

The next few days we will start with the calibration dives and the survey methods. These are the last things we have to learn/do before we can start with the monitoring. Hopefully we will do a good job the next days to make Nina happy, so  we can start with the survey soon! Next week we plan  to do a Clean-up dive in Bannerfish Bay to get rid of all the trash under water. We are definitely having a good time here in Dahab and I´m completely sure that it will continue like this.
Sunny greets from Dahab
Nico & Saskia

DRM2016

 

DRM2016

DRM2016

DRM2016


Dahab Reef Monitoring II - Second week (By Saskia)

Yeah here we come and stand – getting better by the minute!!!

It has been an interesting and joyful week! After finishing the fish indicator practice we learned about invertebrate indicator (such as urchins, cucumbers, different shells, conches …) and after that about corals (soft and hard corals). This includes of course diving once or twice every day and finding indicators at different dive sites. Of course here and there it took some time to differentiate between let’s say Coral Massive and Coral Submassive, but with the patience and help of Nina and also the great teamwork in sum we not only managed, but also are looking forward to even learn more about each. We already have the feeling that some of what we learn here we will never forget, even if we would not go diving for over several years.

Besides the training we also went on several fun dives (Blue Hole and Canyon). One of the highlights of this week was the boat trip to the south. It lasted the whole day, of course great weather but also great food at the boat– very delicious. The boat stopped at Gabr El Bint for example, where we went for 2 dives. We even saw a turtle and several eagle rays! We were joined by a family that was diving with Sinai divers which also was really nice. Anyhow it seems like there are so many interesting and easy going people in Dahab, either living or visiting.
Regarding the training there are 2 main things still ahead of us. First is the coral damage training and second is passing all written and underwater test. We all are quite confident to manage.
So looking forward to other amazing experiences here in Dahab.

Academy 2016

 

DRM2016

DRM2016

DRM2016


Dahab Reef Monitoring II - First week

Hello everyone. The Dahab Reef Monitoring Project starts in a couple of days and we are looking forward to this fantastic adventure! Nonetheless I have already had a great time here. The last 10 days were really exciting and fascinating and also a lot to do.
At the moment I´m working on a project about the behavior of the cleaning wrasses. For the survey I chose two different cleaning stations in the Bannerfish Bay, which are approachable by snorkeling from the beach. These stations got analyzed three times a day (morning, midday and afternoon)  for 10 minutes. The intention of the survey is to find out which families of fish will visit the cleaning stations, how long  the different fishes will stay there, how many fishes will get cleaned in 10 minutes, and if there are some differences between the cleaning  activity at different times of the day, or because of the variable sea condition. Last week I spent most of the time with the observations and the registration of the data. However, this small project, with a lot of sea-time, is really amazing and of course it will be a good training before the Reef Monitoring Project starts.     

In addition  to the small cleaning wrasse project I can do some biological dives or even fun-dives on my days off. The combination between diving, working, and learning new interesting things is incredible! For me it´s an amazing work here!
In the last 10 days we already did a few dives and we were lucky enough to see some special things under water. One of the most impressive experiences was the night dive at “the Caves”. The setting and the adventure to explore the two different caves were beautiful. In addition to this we saw a huge Ton Shell which was about 40 cm! But not only was the night dive great, but also the local dives at the house reef or at the other dive sites around Dahab. For example the Bannerfish bay where we saw some octopuses, stonefishes and a school of small squid accompanied by a bigger one! Or the last dive in Umm Sid where we did a part of our dive together with a turtle! Shortly said: we are already training and improving our skills for the project in combination with beautiful dives and a lot of fun ;) !!!
Sunny greets from Dahab
Nico J

Academy 2016

 

DRM2016

DRM2016

DRM2016

DRM2016


Winteracademy I / Dahab Reef Monitoring I - report 4

Our third week was a week full of surprises. But before all the surprises we needed to do a lot of tests. Not only a written test for recognizing: fishes, invertebrates, substrate and coral damage, but also a few underwater tests. It was hard, but it is also so much fun to know all these species by now. When we dive now, we can recognize some species, which organisms I know already and which are new. With this ecodiver course we started a long journey of learning to know the underwater world. The ecodiver (course) is nice basic to begin with.

Enough about the ecodiver (course). We had some nice surprises! On Monday we had an amazing boat trip, the weather was perfect: sunny with no wind! We jumped off the boat and went straight on diving. Under water we found the Crown of Thorn Starfish chilling on a stone, saw a nice flatworm (which are one of my favourite organisms), octopus and so much more. The reef was pretty and the first dive was calm. After a nice lunch on the boat we had to deal with a strong current, but a long swim with a turtle made it a very nice dive!

The second surprise was on Thursday, we went finally to the Blue Hole! This place is one of the most beautiful dive sites of Dahab. It contains a lot of good quality coral and nice organisms. The cleaner wrasse  cleans even divers! Which was very funny to experience, but also a bit strange (maybe I need to clean my ears before a next  dive there..).

The last surprise was the Bedouin dinner in the mountains with candles and a fire. The food was delicious, veggies, meat and other things which were cooked on the fire. After dinner we had a small walk to the oasis and had a look at the stars. Everyone was tired after this breath-taking week, so we went to bed early. This dinner was also a goodbye dinner for the first group. It will be quiet without you guys! (Christoph, Maxi, Rebecca, Anna, Julian and Veronica)

Bye,

Rosan

Academy 2016

 

Academy 2016

Academy 2016

Academy 2016

Academy 2016


Winteracademy I / Dahab Reef Monitoring I - report 3

Hello from Dahab, today the second week of the Dahab Reef Monitoring ends for us. In the past week we had lots of presentation about the Red Sea Reefs, for example about the fish or the coral damage in the Red Sea. We also had some practical experiences underwater with the methods of the monitoring.

At the beginning of the week, we got to know the procedure of the Reef Check methods at “Ricks Reef”, therefore the  100 meter transect line was put along the reef. We tried to do the substrate survey but that was more difficult than we imagined as you have to do hand signals, put the plumb line carefully on the substrate underneath you, identify the substrate and hold your buoyancy; but with a lot of practice and patience we will get there for sure.

On Wednesday we went to a dive site called “The Islands”, which is, so far, the most beautiful spot that we´ve been to. We entered through a crack in the reef table which was very cool. Afterwards we dived through “mountains” of corals, very impressive! Besides seeing big and wonderful corals, the spot offers a very diverse spectrum of colorful fish and invertebrates.

On our free day, we did some dives for the Advanced Open Water Diver (PADI), for example the night dive, which is a completely different world with all the luminescence that is going on at nighttime. Furthermore we saw a hunting lionfish and many nocturnal corals and sea urchins.

At the end of the week we all passed successfully the first underwater test, where Nina pointed at some indicators and we had to write down what it was. Also we had two theoretical tests, the invertebrate test and the fish test, where we had to identify 50 pictures of fishes/ invertebrates on the computer, so that we get to know the indicators that are important for the Reef Check.

Sunny greets from Dahab,
Philipp and David

Academy 2016

 

Academy 2016

Academy 2016

Academy 2016

Academy 2016


Week 5 of the Dahab Reef Monitoring 2015-II

„We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.“ -Mother Teresa

Final Week.
The last week of the project begun with two wonderful members (Melissa and Raphael) leaving us before the project ended. It makes me sad that this good time is coming to an end and all of us will soon go on our separate paths again, but i’m sure that we’ll stay in contact. The time we spent together shaped us and we will never forget about our experiences here and will always look back with a shiny smile. Before the first members leave, we wanted to make some of our ideas we´ve had for a fundive into a reality. We built a human pyramid in the water, performed our safety-stop dance, which simply comprised a variety of indicators for which we learned the hand signals and last but not least a little music session underwater. Some of us took off our BCDs to use the tank as a drum while the others used there fins as guitars.  That´s how a fundive should be like isn’t it? (You can watch the video soon online).
On our second last survey dive in Abu Helal we’ve found lots of long fishing lines. Tegan and i were very engaged with removing them carefully, which was difficult sometimes because the corals grow over the fishing lines and hold them in between. Fortunately Tegan has a knife and thankfully both of us have a good air consumption because we also had a survey that needed to be done. In Abu Helal i’ve discovered a wart slug which is in none of our available scientific identifying books. I sent the photo to a specialist now and wait for the response. How cool would it be to find an undiscovered wart slug and to get the permission to give it a name.

We didn’t had much time to spend on our final presentation as time seemed to be running out very fast, therefore the most important part were graphs that we were to make and than discuss. It’s difficult to get a result out of the surveys, because there was no time left to connect our data with the data from previous years. Fish or Invertebrate graphs can’t be analyzed without the substrate background for example. This task is for the remaining volunteers which will also involve analyzing all the data from 2006 to 2015, putting them together and finding some trends.
We had a great concluding evening to the project where we successfully presented our data and indulged in the best Pizza in Dahab (from Athanor), a Video from Tegan about our time, lessons and experiences underwater and lastly we were given our Red Sea Reef Check certificates. I thank all of you with all my heart for this amazing, unforgettable experience.

1 day later: 
On the first day after the end of the project, we (Tegan, Nadja, Vicky, Malte and I) decided with Nina what we would be doing during the rest of our internship. After that i went with Jannes for his last snorkel session. We jumped into the water in Bannerfish Bay and swam to Mshraba. We saw some morays (Gray moray, undulated moray), a huge crocodilefish, scorpionfish and many well-known fish and invertebrates. At that time i was conscious about how much we’ve learned during the last weeks. We are able to specify every common fish in the red sea now, but still we see species we don’t know yet which we look up in the books.
In the evening i joined the fluorescent night dive. A sublime Highlight of my diving experience. I couldn’t get enough of seeing the red color of the sea grass, the luminescent sea roses, transparent nudibranches which you can’t see in normal light, and the corals. Most corals are yellow fluorescent and have their tentacles out (as they are feeding at night) which extends my fascination. It feels like your in Avatar, the film. Florescence fascinates me as pure magic and i really want to learn more about it, perhaps i will write my bachelor thesis on this topic as well. We will see.
Wish you all the best, peace and love,
Bye bye, Sarah

 

DRM2015-II

DRM2015-II

DRM2015-II

DRM2015-II


Almost professional - week 4 of the Dahab Reef Monitoring 2015-II

„The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul.“ - Wyland

This week was also instructive with wonderful experiences. By now we’ve all got a flair for the survey method, we are confident in identifying species and our diveskills are much better compared to the first weeks of diving. In my opinion we can call ourselves ecodivers/ reef checkers with a good conscience. This week i had my second night dive, where i tried my camera light for the first time. That light is not a torch anymore its like a flood light. It felt like I lit up the whole sea with it and saw uncountable different crabs, shrimps, spanish dancers, different nudibranchs, sea stars and sleeping parrotfish. Sleeping parrotfish are so cute they surround themselves with a bubble so that no enemy smell them while they are sleeping (their eyes are still open). The most fascinating for me was to shine through the endless blue of the sea, where you can see all the microorganisms, tiny jellyfish and worms which float to the rhythm of the sea. Unfortunately i had my most terrible dive this week. In the coral damage team i was confronted and overtaxed with a nearly destroyed coral reef at a site called Ricks Reef at 10m depth. Almost every Acropora and other types of corals had abbreviations or breakage. A huge number of corals were dead already. This survey wasn’t fun at all, my pencil broke so it was annoying and difficult continue writing, the current was pretty strong and everywhere i looked, i saw a dead, recently killed or damaged coral and way too much macro and fleshy algae. 
Out of 40 dives during the project, it´s not of superior value if just one dive wasn’t that nice. 
The next day we had our boat trip to Gabr El Bend, definitely the Highlight of this week. We transmuted the boat into a party boat with nice music, took titanic like photos at the buk, jumped from the upper board into the sea and wrote “RSEC“with white shells on the mountainous land. Now every boat from distance can read „RSEC AMAZING TRIPS“. Never before have I seen a coral reef so beautiful, Gabr El Bend definately tops anything i’ve seen before. The beauty of the sea bursts into bloom through all the different kinds of soft corals. i really love soft corals!
Let’s see what magical sites and species await me during the last week of project.
peace and love,
Sarah

 

 

DRM2015-II

DRM2015-II

DRM2015-II


Survey Start - Week 3 of the Dahab Reef Monitoring 2015-II

„We know that when we protect our oceans we’re protecting our future.“ -Bill Clinton

Finally the survey dives started. For the surveys at 10 and 15m depth we need two dives to complete one transect  which is 100m in length. We take down data on the transect for invertebrates (eg. sea cucumber, sea urchin, octopus, nudibranch), fish (eg. butterflyfish, grouper, broomtail wrasse, snapper), corals (eg. coral massive, acropora, porites) and coral diseases. Each buddy team is responsible for one out of the four surveys, some of which are easier and faster to complete than others. 
The fish survey team always starts, because we do not want to disrupt the fish in the transect and also the fish team has to complete their survey during the first dive. I was in the fish team today and have to admit, that its one of the difficult surveys for me, because it needs a good overview, you need to make sure that you don’t double count and don’t count out of transect (Besides certain indicators which we count both in and out of transect). That might sound complicated but actually the method is working very well and practice creates masters. Fortunately, i counted almost the same number as my buddy did, this is very important for the fish survey cause both buddies swim together through the whole transect. This is unlike the coral disease and invertebrates transect whereby each buddy has his 2.5m side along the transect line. Invertebrates is the favorite for most of us. For the invertebrate survey you count the different species on your side, these species usually do not move much and are easy to see making it a simple task. The substrate survey is fun as well, the transect line has markings every 0.5m. One person has a plumpline (a piece of string with a small sinker at the end) which he plumps at every marking and informs his/her buddy through handsignals which type of substrate (eg. coral, sand, rock) he has plumped on, while the buddy writes it down on the underwater slate. 
Tomorrow i have invertebrates for the first time , i’m very glad and excited!
Since the surveys started, it is even more relaxed here because we don’t have to study in our free time anymore. I’ve finished my Advanced Open Water and Nitrox already and looking forward to continue with my deep dive.
Apart from that i do free diving, fun diving, enjoy the nice food and homey evenings with my wonderful wolf pack in outside bars/restaurants or on our rooftop. 
Yesterday was Jannes birthday, for him we made a plan as well. We kidnapped him and took him to the lagoona , where a beduin supper was already prepared with candles and other nice stuff. In addition he had to follow our self created geocash with challenges of climbing and diving to find his present. It’s so great what a coherence we have as the “Wolfspacks“ and how much effort and inspiring ideas we put into birthdays for people we’ve just met to have a special and unforgettable day. It’s a very special time.
Sunny regards from the red sea, 
Sarah

DRM2015-II

 

DRM2015-II

DRM2015-II

DRM2015-II

DRM2015-II


Passed - Second week of our Dahab Reef Monitoring 2015-II project

"From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free.“ — Jacques Yves Cousteau, Oceanographer

During the last weeks we got well-trained for coral reef check. At the beginning it was a large amount of informations, but by now every team member has the ability to distinguish between a coral encrusting and a coral sub-massive and to see when a coral is bleached or recently killed, which we found rather difficult. To identify the different types of fish and invertebrates is very easy now and it´s also a lot of fun. Every time i go for a dive, i further discover how beautiful and colourful the coral reefs are, and how happy i am in salty water. Recently i saw my first seahorse and reef octopus outside of its hiding place. The sea and its inhabitants are fascinating and magical at the same time. Discovering new living organisms makes me very happy, even when they are not indicators for our project we still take great joy in being able to identify them. That´s what´s nice about being here, everyone is interested in learning more than what is required for the project.

The group i stay with is awesome. Everyone except Tegan (the South African girl), comes from a german speaking country (Switzerland, Austria, Germany). 
Yesterday was Raphaels´ birthday and since we went to Abu Galum for Tegans birthday already, we decided to organize an oriental birthday party on our rooftop, as surprise of course. We borrowed carpets, pillows and a shisha from a good friend, Mohammed who has a shop near Sinai divers. Tegan und i organized the birthday present, the buffet and drinks and the girls cooked a nice milkrice-cake. We did not miss anything, we had a vast number of falafels, bread, hummus, babaganusch, tzatziki, salad and milkrice cake (cause Raphael loves milkrice and our oven does not work so we could not bake a normal cake). We also has fresh strawberry and guava juices, alcoholic drinks and a lot of funny activities. We bought henna to create our own tattoos and we had our own instruments to make music. It feels like we created a little family here, we had a big housecleaning on the plan for today, which is actually quite fun when everyone works together.
Tomorrow we start with our first survey dive,we already had calibration dives to get used to the method and underwater slates. I am very excited!
Ich bin schon sehr gespannt und freue mich.
i inform you soon about it. Until then i wish you such a nice time as i have.
love, Sarah

DRM2015-II

 

DRM2015-II

DRM2015-II

DRM2015-II

DRM2015-II

 


To be along - first week of our Dahab Reef Monitoring 2015-II project

„The sea, once it casts its spell, hold one in its net of wonder forever.“ -Jacques Yves Cousteau.“ 

After a long flight with a stopover in Istanbul, where i met Nadja a member of our project, i arrived in Sharm el Sheikh during the night of the 5th of august. A kind taxi driver picked us up from the airport to transport us to Dahab and as the wind blew through my hair, I could not believe how hot it was. I did not expect such a dry landscape covered with lovely mountains and a starry magical sky. As the driver stopped at our house, i was overjoyed because the house resembles a villa, where students live who share all one passion: The sea. Strangely the driver did not know, that our villa has two doors and our key was for the backdoor and therefore we could not open the frontdoor. To solve this problem I spontaneously climbed over the fence to look around, It would have been a wiser idea to have looked for an alternative entry, but my excitement seemed to cause some rash decisions . Milka, the houses lovely kitten and new new family member purred and welcomed us to our new home.  Soon after we met Vicky, another project member with whom we share the bedroom and bathroom.
After a few hours of sleep i was wide awake and wanted to go on an expedition to see the dive center, to meet Nina, our project leader, the red sea and to give Dahab a big hug. As i arrived a couple of days before the project started, i had enough time to absorb all the different aspects of this old fishing village and to reflect on the many first impressions I got. I was able to take my time to enjoy this new way of life, to assimilate and to do some fun dives. It is a great surprise to see how kind people are here, they truely make us feel so welcome and we soon all feel at home.
The first time I went snorkeling in the bay, i could barely believe my eyes, never before have I seen such a beautiful, colourful, diverse and breathtaking underwater world. i saw many different types of fish, a lot of invertebrates and corals, that i couldn´t wait to identify.
By the 10th of august, every project member had arrived safely and the day one of the RSEC reef monitoring project started. We got to learn the different fish families and species as well as hand signals to communicate with our dive buddies what we were seeing. The following days we learned about the invertebrates, corals as well as coral diseases. There were times when I felt like there was a lot to learn for the project but all this information was so interesting, this made it a lot easier as learning furthers our interests and ignites our passion for the sea. Besides you cannot possibly learn in a more fun way than being underwater and getting lessons from our wonderful guides Nina and Aylin where we are taught what different fish are called, what happened (in terms of damage and diseases) to certain corals and to improve our dive skills and buoyancy. This is why the internship feels more like some kind of holiday and the development of my career dream as opposed to working.
I am deeply grateful that i can learn and experience all this here, in the Red Sea.
Yesterday we had our first day off which was also Tegans’ birthday, a project member from South Africa. We decided to go on a trip to Abu Galum. We were riding camels along the beach while the sun was setting, had a enjoyable beduin supper, slept in the desert under the stars and went into the water in the morning for a snorkel expedition. It was great!
Some of us get really tired because of the heat, others like me go snorkeling in their free time. I saw one eagle-ray and two different stingrays already; 4 different types of morays, 2 turtles. I can truly say i am in the placeI have forever wanted to be.
I will keep you up to date about my life and my experiences here in Dahab, but for now i should continue learning. The underwater test and exam will be soon.
Sunny and joyously underwater regards,
Sarah

DRM2015-II

 

DRM2015-II

DRM2015-II

DRM2015-II

DRM2015-II

DRM2015-II

 


Dahab Reef Monitoring - Spring 2015 / Easter Reef Check

From February to April 2015, the Red Sea Environmental Center in Dahab welcomed and trained more than 10 volunteers to carry out the nineteenth survey of coral reefs in the northern Red Sea. German, Austrian, Spanish, Dutch and Swiss volunteers joined this project in order to get involved in the protection of the breathtaking underwater world. In collaboration with the Sinai Divers Backpackers and under the scientific supervision of Nina Milton, the multinational team collected data at six dive sites in the area of Dahab at different depths (5, 10 or 15 meters).

The Dahab Reef Monitoring Project started with some presentations and learning sessions of Reef Check indicators. Some additional indicators and damages specific to the South Sinai region and the northern Red Sea were included. To get familiar with the fishes, invertebrates, substrates and coral diseases, predation, and breakages which have to be recorded, our team carried out twice a day some underwater identification exercises. After some buoyancy training and calibration dives, we were progressively able to conduct the surveys.  It was a great experience to suddenly observe and recognize so many things underwater that we normally wouldn’t even notice. Besides the exciting feeling of learning so much in quite a short period, we got lucky; we saw some turtles, a lot of nudibranchs, including spanish dancers, a crown-of-thorns starfish, a long-nose hawkfish laying in mustard colored gorgonians, napoleons, lion fishes, octopi, giant morays, barracudas, different rays, and a lot more. But the most amazing was during a survey taking place at the Blue Hole where we saw a baby whale shark swimming peacefully along the reef!!

All in all, the results show that most fish indicators, except for butterflyfish and surgeonfish are absent or in low numbers. Few invertebrates were recorded, except for long spined sea urchins and giant clams. However, most of the giant clams recorded had small sizes. The most common diseases found on the reefs were the skeletal eroding band and skeletal anomalies, although only present in low numbers. Few bleached corals were observed, but at some sites damage to coral was frequent. A quite high amount of trash (mostly fishing nets, lines, carpets, cans, plastic bottles and bags) were sadly recorded. It was also very interesting to compare dive sites with low to high level of anthropogenic impacts. At one of the favorite dive spot of our team, Abu Helal, the coral cover reaches more than 50%, which is relatively high in comparison with the rest of the sites located in this area. The absence of infrastructures, restaurants, or hotels at proximity of this site could be one of the reasons for the healthy condition of the reef. In contrast, the heavily dived site of Moray Garden, with only 22% hard corals cover, suffers from a certain amount of coral damage (breakage and abrasion). Before carrying out the surveys, we tried to predict the situation we would find underwater by observations on land. It was surprising to discover that our expectations didn't always fit with reality. For this reason, we realized how important it is to keep conducting these Reef Check projects!

By Volunteers

DRM2015-I

 

DRM2015-I

DRM2015-I

DRM2015-I

DRM2015-I

DRM2015-I


Dahab Reef Monitoring 2015-I Blog week 4

We started our fourth week with a nice monitoring dive at Rick’s Reef, this time we conducted our transect at 10 m. After this we had a day off to be able to relax and do some snorkelling around the bay, all this hard work deserved a nice break ;) at Hasanain. As Vanessa described it was the “Egyptian Version of La Dolce Vitta”, we had a nice and abundant lunch that included mashi, soup, vegetable rice and to end some Bedouin tea and a shisha.

We had all been waiting for Wednesday to arrive and were really excited about our first dive at the famous “Blue Hole”. The dive site completely met our expectations; it was incredible to go down the bells and then just look down and see nothing but the deep blue! The underwater life was also amazing, full of Anthias, and we were also lucky to spot some trevallies, a blue spotted sting ray, moray eels and a nudibranch.
The following day we did our last transect at Moray Garden and went for a nice Bedouin dinner to the desert. Our driver and guide Hamed prepared some lovely food for us and made some bread there that we were able to help prepare. It was just magical to enjoy the silence of the desert under a sky full of stars.

Our luck with the weather was starting to change; it seemed that for the following days we would be able to enjoy really nice weather with no wind. We decided to take advantage of this and go to do some surveys at sites were the entrance is not that easy with wind. So for the next two days we went to Rick´s Reef and when the tide was high to Abu Helal.

Abu Helal was just impressive, and once you go there and enter the water you realize the reasoning behind only doing this site with high tide. Entering the water is not that easy because there are lots of rocks and pools, so it is easy to lose balance and fall (I know from experience...) and once you are on the floor it is hard to stand up again with all the weights we wear (Nina had to come to my rescue...). The variety of colours and fish is just unbelievable; there are no words to describe it. We also saw our first crown-of-thorn starfish (Acanthaster planci), although we all knew that it was not a good thing to see one due to the negative effect they have on the reef, we were just amazed by its size and colour.

On Sunday we had time to do office work and we started analyzing our data and preparing it for the end of the project presentation. Time has gone by so quickly, I can´t believe we have only around a week left. I will miss Dahab.

 

DRM2015-I

DRM2015-I

 

DRM2015-I

DRM2015-I

DRM2015-I

DRM2015-I

DRM2015-I


Dahab Reef Monitoring 2015-I Blog week 3 – Windy, windy week
It was a memorable week again. As it was very windy we did most of our survey dives at Moray Garden. Our first try was not as successful as we wished, but turned out to be okay in the end. Because of the cold water temperature it was decided to split the surveys into two parts and limit our dive time to 60 minutes.  So it was Moray Garden again the next day. It is important to monitor this site because it is heavily affected by divers and other impacts. On Wednesday we had a day off, which some used to go snorkeling and others to relax at home and obligatory laundry day.  As we spend so much time at Moray garden we were very excited for the boat trip to Gabr-el-Bint. As the conditions for diving weren´t perfect we decided to do fun dives instead of survey dives at the exceptionally well preserved dive site. On the second dive we found longnose hawkfish in the mustard coloured gorgonia that grew very big.  Next day we treated ourselves with a nice barbecue, as it was Nils last day. The Egyptian guides from the dive center helped us to cook Egyptian-style rice which is super tasty!!!  It was a memorable night.

As some of us were not able to dive, the substrate survey was done by one person and Nina joined in for the Coral Damage group.  On our second day off all of us went to Ras Abu Galum . The trip combines Camel riding with a nice snorkeling site and local Bedouin lunch. As usual it was windy, so only one of us decided to go for a second time in the water and observed a hunting octopus. Our Bedouin driver invited us to his house for tea and freshly baked bread, which was also super tasty. There we meet his big family.

Memo to me: dry suites do not protect you from getting a cold in the Egyptian winter.

Franziska

DRM2015-I

 

DRM2015-I

DRM2015-I

DRM2015-I

DRM2015-I


Dahab Reef Monitoring 2015-I Weekly Report 2

This week, Nina wanted proof our indicator knowledge so we had to do some tests before we start with the underwater surveys. Therefore we had to identify typical fishes, invertebrates, corals and their diseases on pictures and during the dives.
Finally, after 2 weeks hard work, everybody passed the indicator test and now we are ready for the monitoring. But still we need to practice a lot to get the best results and therefore we start first with some calibration dives. That means preparing the underwater slates, laying down the transect line and to run through the survey method.
Each buddy pair is in charge of one indicator group and have to record everything within transect. Surprisingly, nobody crashed into each other and Nina was very proud of us. But it became clear that it is not so easy because you have to concentrate on too many things around you. The most difficult thing was to recognize the coral damage and probably for this, we will need Nina´s help a lot of times.

After such hard work, we had a day off which we used for snorkeling. This was really relaxed and we saw many things, like a huge pufferfish, the typical lionfishes. For today we organized a cleanup day for collecting rubbish under water. This was quite nice, because everybody got a collector net and we picked off all the trash that we could found. Anyway, we also found animals that we never saw before, like a cute seahorse, big green turtle feeding on the seagrass and camouflaged scorpionfish. A very nosy lionfish was following us for quite a long time. We collected a lot of strange things. Beside a pillow, we found also carpets and a plug socket. Everybody had a lot of fun and we have done something good for the animals living in the Red Sea.

By Ina

 

DRM2015-I

 

DRM2015-I

DRM2015-I

DRM2015-I


Dahab Reef Monitoring 2015-I Weekly Report 1

First thing to say: It is so amazing here!
I arrived the 2nd of March in the middle of the night. A nice driver picked me up from the airport in Sharm el Sheik. I was so tired that I immediately fell asleep. I woke up in Dahab, and the first thing I saw was the impressive landscape of Egypt. The mountains were illuminated by the sun, it was so beautiful: A warm welcome in Dahab.
I met all the people in the RSEC house in the morning. They are all very nice and absolutely motivated. They arrived from Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Amsterdam or Austria with the same target to protect and help the underwater world.
This week we started with the Reef Check Monitoring Project. At the beginning we have to learn a lot of different indicators. It’s very important for the Project to be familiar with the different families of fish, invertebrates and categories of the corals. We also learned about different coral diseases. For sure it was hard to learn all this stuff, because after two dives and one presentation we were very tired. At the end of the day all of us fell into bed at nine o’clock. But all this work is worthwhile, when you are underwater and you are able to identify a fish or something else, you are so happy and suddenly you recognize more and more other fascinating things. Like a pyjama snail or a razor wrasse which can unexpectedly disappear into the sand.

All the dives that week were very nice. Our instructor Nina helped us to identify all the species. We have learned different hand signals to communicate underwater: watching that is very funny. We don’t have to talk anymore, the hand signals are enough. Today is our first day off. It’s a good time to process our impressions. I can’t wait to see more and learn more about the tropical reefs and their residents. This project here is so important and, helpful for the future that we are all very happy and thankful to be a part of this.

By Sandra

Oris Scholars 2015

Our three Scholars of this DRM project.

 

DRM2015-I

DRM2015-I

DRM2015-I

DRM2015-I

DRM2015-I

DRM2015-I


Dahab Reef Monitoring 2014-II - First report

Hey everybody. Now two weeks of training have passed and we’re ready to start surveying the dive sites. During first week we had classes in the morning where we were taught about the indicator fishes and invertebrates. We also studied the different kind of corals for the recording of the substrate and the coral damage. Afterwards we practiced the theory we just learned under water. During the last week we practiced surveying. Training was more difficult than we expected. But it’s totally manageable. Just some corals or fish are harder to recognize or tell apart then we thought. Nina though is very confident about us being ready at last ;-)

Diving itself has also been a challenge to some of us. With only OWD we really needed all the training dives we did. But now, after two weeks, our diving improved a lot. Nobody is a danger to the corals anymore which of course is very import! The dive sites are really nice. The coral reefs are amazing. But even though the surveys didn’t really start we are already able see the impact of the human activities. Some of the dive sites already declined in health a lot. We were really happy to see turtles, a spotted eagle ray, a bluespotted ribbontail ray and a huge Napoleon wrasse (app. 1.10 m).

Dahab is a very small and quiet town. You can very easily see the damage the terrorism of ten years ago and the Revolution did to the local economy. Nina told us about how full the dive sites and the restaurants used to be and it’s so empty that it’s very hard for us to imagine it. The shop assistants or owners are always trying to gain you as a customer by talking to you when you pass by. It also doesn’t matter how often you walk by the shops they keep on asking. It must be really hard for the local people who depended so much on the tourism to come by these days. Also any investigators seem to have vanished as there are so many houses and hotels which haven’t been finished yet. Some of them even look like they never are going to be finished at all.

All of us like Dahab though and don’t really understand why no tourists are coming. It’s not dangerous at all. The people here are all very friendly, helpful and laid back. Most of them understand English quite well. We like the food (a lot). To us the food is also very inexpensive (except maybe at the dive sites). We plan on doing some trips (e. g. Colored Canyon, Nabq etc.) as well. Yesterday we also did a BBQ on the rooftop J

DRM2014-II

 

DRM2014-II

DRM2014-II

DRM2014-II

DRM2014-II

DRM2014-II

DRM2014-II


Dahab Reef Monitoring 2014-I
Weekly report no. 5

Slowly the time has come to an end; the days are getting warmer and the people in the RSEC house fewer. The often changes in wind conditions have made it hard to always follow protocol but we managed quite well to stay flexible. The rest of the days were spent with some fun-diving to fill up everyone`s plan and office work in the afternoons. There is still a lot of paperwork to do. We are currently working on a general Reef Check report for this year as well as on a big report comparing data from the last 8 years of surveying this area.
First this week we went to Abu Helal where a beautiful reef and good diving conditions awaited us. Only the entry of the reef plateau was not as easy, the exit felt even harder. Climbing in current condition with approximately 25 kg more on is not a fun adventure. Since we were running a little short on people at the end now and unfortunately Nina was not able to dive with us a few days this week, we managed the “Islands”-survey with 4 people, 2 doing invertebrates and one for each substrate and fish. Due to good conditions, like good visibility and good effort in a now already quite professional team, we could accomplish the survey. But the first try at the Islands North at the beginning of the week was rather unsuccessful: after only 10 min of not seeing anything and being pushed by the currents we aborted the whole survey. A day later we went to Blue Hole spontaneously deciding to make it two fun dives due to again windy conditions. Two wonderful 30m dives awaited us into a surreal landscape of dark overhangs and forest-like landscapes of soft coral and black corals.
It also seems that there are slowly more tourists coming into Dahab. Where there were quite empty restaurants and dive sites, now a few tourists are found. A good thing for the local people it seems. Due to the travel-warnings in different countries on top of the critical political situation a lot business men here are struggling.
Over all it has been a successful project and the report using the data of the past few years seems to be promising. We would like to thank all the people contributing to this fantastic journey and the wonderful time we spent together, especially our awesome project leader Nina and the well-organized and enjoyable Sinai Divers Backpackers Team. 

DRM2014-I

 

DRM2014-I

DRM2014-I

DRM2014-I

DRM2014-I


RSEC Fieldstation Dahab
Weekly Volunteer report:  22-28.03.2014

Volunteers: Christian Jessen, Christian Hofinger, Nina Röder, Fee Zanke, Laurent Guyard  (and partially Maria Suplicki and Voelker Soltys  who left on Thursday and Friday respectively).

During this week the Reef Check Monitoring program continued under the supervision of Nina Milton. The somewhat strong wind conditions did not allow carrying out every day all the dives at the intended locations.
It could be managed to complete surveys at Gabr-el-Bint, Blue Hole, Ricks Riff and Lighthouse, which were less exposed to dominant winds.
Many reefs were impacted by the recent floods since large substrates areas were still covered to a large extent by sand and/or silt and the overall visibility remained below average. It can be feared that hard corals will start to bleach in the most exposed locations but no observations could yet be ascertained.
The outside temperature increased every day during the week showing the on-going seasonal transition towards summer. The water temperature remained stable at 22oc though, which fortunately enabled not to add another stress factor to the already impacted corals and invertebrates.
Regarding the fauna and based on individual long term observations, it seems that local fish stocks are not as abundant as in the past years. Very little sizeable fish can be currently observed (i.e no large grouper, few sweetlips, few angel fish, few snappers). A couple of humphead wrasses could be seen fortunately. When talking to inhabitants and observing local behaviors, It could be assumed that this situation may be resulting from the low level of tourism (since the beginning of the arab revolution) providing less revenues for locals and thus  forcing part of the population to live more intensively on seafood. 
The volunteer team has undertaken to write a long term monitoring report analyzing the available RSEC data over the last 7 years. This report should be made available within the coming 3 weeks. Data are currently being compiled in one single spreadsheet. Introduction and methods are being drafted. The discussion will be structured following full data analysis. We hope to be able to find some explanations to our questions and substantiate current assumptions. 

29.03.2014 By Laurent Guyard

 

DRM2014-I

DRM2014-I

DRM2014-I


Weekly Report of Dahab Reef Monitoring Project 2014

Week 3: 15.03.2014 – 21.03.2014

This week was full of new and interesting experiences. It began with a change of the dive site on the first day of the week because of bad weather conditions. The wind was too strong for the Islands and so we decided to go to Canyon south (Coral Garden). We finished the survey but afterwards it was so cold, that we cancelled the fluorescent dive which was planned for the evening.

We did the fluorescent night dive on the next day. Christian Jessen gave us a short presentation about fluorescence in marine organisms, and in the evening we dived in Bannerfish Bay. For most of us it was a complete new experience. Unfortunately the conditions were not the best. The darker light and the bad visibility caused by an input of a lot of sediment during the rain a week before made navigation not very easy. Sometimes we could not even see the bottom, but once  we reached the fluorescent corals it seemed to me like a firework under water.

We also did a clean-up dive in Bannerfish Bay and we could fill up our nets quickly with trash. Also here the visibility was sometimes less than one meter.
The evenings we spend together either at home in the RSEC house or outside at cosy coffe shops for a shisha and a drink.

One special evening this week we went by camels into the desert, walking around a bit in a little narrow Wadi and had a delicious Bedouin dinner outside.
The teamwork is really nice under water and in the office, and for me as diving instructor it is amazing to see the development of diving ability.

By Christian Hofinger

 

DRM2014-I

 

DRM2014-I

DRM2014-I

DRM2014-I

DRM2014-I


Dahab Reef Monitoring 2014-I, report week 2:

Now the second exciting and successful week of the Dahab Reef Monitoring is over. Finally we started with the surveys. At the start of the week the weather was exceptional bad and it even rained. But the rain which could be compared to a normal summer rain in Germany had a large impact in the bay. There was a big flow of muddy water and trash into the ocean. The water at the coast was brown and the visibility in the water was less than one meter.  On our fist dive after the big flood we found a thick layer of silt where corals and sea grass meadows have been before.

We started surveying again two days after the flood at the beautiful dive site which is called ‘The ‘Islands’. In week two we managed to survey 8 different beautiful dive sites. The most exciting survey was probably at the ‘Umm Sid’. The reef is very colorful and our dive was accompanied by many unicorn fishes as well as 500 fusiliers.
On one of our days off some of us joined a fun dive to the ‘Blue Hole’ where you dive through the Bells 30 m down a chimney. This dive was very impressive. The mood in the group is awesome. Somehow we all get along very well and have much fun together both under water and in the evenings while cooking or going out for dinner.
Also the atmosphere in Dahab is very good and we feel safe.

Next week we plan to do more surveys. Hopefully the weather will be fine and not too cold or too windy so that we can pursue the plan.

Regards from Dahab!

The volunteers of the DRM2014-I

DRM2014-I

 

DRM2014-I

DRM2014-I

DRM2014-I

DRM2014-I

 


Dahab Reef Monitoring 2014-I, report week 1:

The first week of the Dahab Reef Monitoring project is over and we finally managed to write up a summary of the passed by events. Before we even started, the team size was reduced by half due to the political developments and the travel warnings by some European Federal Foreign Offices. The people that slowly showed up were really happy when they learned that the project will take place. However, to fit the project content to the new group size we had to reduce the scope of the project. Instead of the extended version of the Dahab Reef Monitoring we switched to the "standard" Reef Check protocol. That means that although the surveys are conducted with less detail, we are still able to visit all the reefs to continue a long-term dataset.

We passed the first of five weeks very successfully. This surely resulted from the diverse team composition. Besides Nina, the manager of the RSEC field station with experience from countless courses of many years, our team consists of an experienced dive instructor and teacher from Austria, four motivated students from the biological and environmental sciences and a coral reef scientist.

During the first days, when it was not clear if the rest of the group will arrive, we sometimes had a queasy feeling about the situation in Dahab because the Federal Foreign Office did not list direct reasons for intensifying travel warnings to the Sinai. Furthermore, it was not easy to evaluate the situation when freshly arrived. Every day, we got together to talk about the newest developments and agreed to limit our movements more or less to the RSEC house and the dive center. Over the following days we got accustomed to the situation with the help of the nice and laid-back atmosphere of the city and the presence of other divers and families.

We already learnt quite a lot. With Nina's Powerpoint presentations and intensive underwater training we learnt and practiced the most important fish and invertebrate indicator species and how to distinguish different substrate covers for the upcoming surveys. Then, the coral reef scientist gave us an introduction to the world of algae, which groups exist and what is their role in the reef.
Next week, things will get serious, because the first surveys are starting where we want to assess the first reefs. We are already very excited.

Best wishes

The DRM2014-I Volunteer Team

DRM2014-I

 

DRM2014-I

DRM2014-I

DRM2014-I

DRM2014-I

DRM2014-I

DRM2014-I


The Dahab Reef Monitoring Project at RSEC in Dahab, Egypt
From 28th of February until 4th of the biannual Dahab Reef Monitoring Project, an extended Reef Check, was conducted in Dahab, Egypt. Seven volunteers were trained for the important indicator species of Reef Check. Several indicator trainings were done as well as some buoyancy practices to improve the diving skills.

The dive sites Islands South, Islands North, Moray Garden, Lighthouse, Rick’s Reef, Canyon South, Blue Hole and Abu Hilal were investigated during the Reef Check. Apart from Canyon South which was not possible to complete because of a strong current, all dive sites were surveyed at depths of 5 and 10 meters.

The Dahab Reef Monitoring Project has been conducted from 2006 annually and in the last couple of years biannually. When comparing these years, the data show a decrease in abundance of fish indicators at the dive sites Islands South and North, Rick’s Reef and Moray Garden. An overall absence of grouper larger than 30 cm was observable. But also other fish like Humphead wrasse, moray eels and Broomtail wrasse were less abundant in 2013 compared to previous years. The absence of grouper could be a result of fishing as grouper is very often served in restaurants all around Dahab.

On the other side, a positive trend for the invertebrate Giant clam was detectable. Many dive sites contained clams with a higher size classes.

Overall, it was an awesome and informative experience. At the same time it gave us a good feeling to help protecting the coral reefs.  For more information, please visit www.reefcheck.org or www.reefcheck.de

 

DRM2013 Team

 

Reef Check

DRM2013-I

DRM2013-I

DRM2013-I


Dahab Reef Monitoring 2013-II, report week 5:

Our last week here in Dahab is drawing to a close and so does the Reef Monitoring Project. Time for a quick resume: 4 weeks of reef checking, 7 different sampling sites, more than 50 transects, lots of impressions, and heaps of fun under the dahabian sun. We finished our project at 'Lighthouse' were we did the final 5m-transect under slightly choppy conditions. Situated in the center of Dahab, this dive site is particularly known to be strongly frequented, therefore we start our last transect early in the morning to avoid the crowds. Since our arrival in early September, the number of visitors have somewhat increased and we are not walking around in totally empty streets. Our team was lucky enough to join another incredibly nice boat trip with the stuff from Sinai Divers Backpackers before we   sat down together to analyze the data he had collected over the weeks. We presented our results to Nina, our project manager and discussed possible reasons and improvement suggestions.

  DRM2013-II

Dahab Reef Monitoring 2013-II, report week 4:

Another week is gone. Unfortunately, our survey dives will find their end soon. Last week we had an underwater clean-up dive, this week we started to pick up trash from the beach at Blue Hole (Divesite). It was really sad, because after 10 minutes our plastic bags were fully filled with trash.

One evening we had our first fluorescence night dive in bannerfish bay. Equipped with special torches and cool glasses we enjoyed the night underwater life with all its colors. It was amazing how many organisms are using fluorescence for their protection. EDGAR, the lionfish, followed us all the time and took care about us ;). Our other friends also were there like pipefish, anemone crabs, hermit crabs, nudibranchs and especially the yellow frogfish.

It’s obvious that our survey dives are done with closed eyes without thinking about what we have to do. It became routine, but in a really good way. It makes a lot of fun. The following days, we will put our data into graphics and take our last brain cells to discuss differences between the last years. We are a small group, but we have already sampled enough data. We are looking forward to our results and hope that the tourism-reduction has and had a good input to the reefs.

DRM2013-II

 

DRM2013-II

DRM2013-II

DRM2013-II

DRM2013-II


Dahab Reef Monitoring 2013-II, report week 3:

The last week has been great. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday we did a couple of survey dives in and around Dahab. By now, it is working quite well underwater. Everyone knows what to do and we actually always succeed in doing, what we´d planned before. We are improving our skills every dive and with all the knowledge we already gained, diving is even more fun.

Yesterday we went out with the boat to Gabr-el Bint. Besides us from RSEC some other people came with us well. With Ninas help we completed our survey in 10m depths in just one dive and we were able to join the group on two more fun dives. We were quite lucky. We spotted two turtles, one of them a big hawksbill turtle resting on corals and smoothly „flying“ away, once we approached it. The reefs were in an excellent condition and the fish seemed more and bigger. As these spots are only accessible by boat, human impact is quite low and life underwater is much „healthier“ than in our house reefs here in Dahab for example.

After a beautiful day on the boat nobody thought we would even have more luck: on our way back the captain suddenly shouted „dolphins, dolphins! “. Everybody ran to the bow and we saw at first one, then two and finally five dolphins swimming with our boat, including one little baby dolphin! What a sight! They were showing off and we were whistling at them, trying to encourage those beautiful creatures to stay close to us as long as possible. After a couple of unforgettable minutes they just vanished and left some really happy people behind :-)

This morning we met to do a clean-up dive just here in front of our dive school in Bannerfish bay. The idea is simple: everyone gets a big net and collects as much rubbish as possible. It´s incredible how much trash we actually just collected on this one dive. If one imagines how big the world is it´s just depressing to continue this thought regarding the trash in our oceans..
The highlight of this dive was an encounter with a Napoleon – he came to check as out, circled us and vanished – Wow, what a fish!
Tonight we´ll have our first night dive at Lighthouse and all of us are really looking forward to it! We hope (as always) to have some great encounters underwater … :-)

 

DRM2013-II

 

DRM2013-II

DRM2013-II

DRM2013-II

DRM2013-II

DRM2013-II


Dahab Reef Monitoring 2013-II, report week 1+2:

The first two weeks passed by really fast. In the first week Nina shared her knowledge about the corals, diseases, fish and invertebrates that exist around Dahab, with us.  After that she showed us how to dive head-down without damaging anything and we were just seen in the typical RSEC-position so that we won´t miss anything. Because we were so concentrated on the substrate, it was just good, that we had Nina with us, who showed us all the things like sting rays, which we would have missed.
After passing the test and the calibration dives we were finally ready to start the real surveys.  Now we already had a few survey dives and finished one dive site and are still really enthusiastic.  The diving itself is now, that we recognize everything and know where to search for it, much more exciting.

Although there is a warning for the whole country, you don´t hear or see anything of trouble here. It´s very quiet and relaxed like always. And every evening we enjoy the good service in the restaurants and are looking forward for the next dives, especially the bot trip and the night dive.

DRM2013-II

 

DRM2013-II

DRM2013-II

DRM2013-II


Dahab Reef Monitoring I - Weekly Report 5: 28th March to 4th April 2013

The last week of the Dahab Reef Monitoring started with more surveys at the famous Blue Hole and other dive sites such as Coral Garden, Islands South and North. Last week’s highlight and a nice ending of the whole project, was the Boat trip on the 4th. Having perfect weather conditions, we went to the beautiful dive sites El Shugarat and Gabr-El-Bint at the conservation area Nabq.  Due to a strong current, it was not possible to do a survey the next day.  Therefore, we went for two fun dives at the Canyon. Our last dive was an early morning dive at Mashraba at 6:30 a.m., so we could enjoy an undisturbed underwater world. On the day of departure, we hosted a good-bye brunch at the RSEC house and also Nina and Thorsten (Manager of Sinai Divers Backpackers) were invited. All in all, it was a wonderful time in which we learned a lot about coral reefs and its inhabitants as well as about diving skills. We want to give thanks to Nina and the whole team for the exceptional times.

 

 

Yellow frogfish

 

DRM2013-I

DRM2013-I

DRM2013-I


Dahab Reef Monitoring I - Weekly Report 4: 21th to 28th March 2013

The reef monitoring is entering its 4th week and the survey dives run smoothly. Two new trainees support the team. After the successful completion of the check dive in the house reef, Bannerfish Bay, and after training in the buoyancy park they could support us with the surveys.  As a fully complete team we surveyed the diving sites Moray Garden, Blue Hole, Abu Hilal & Canyon South. Among some of the highlights were Napoleon wrasses, turtle and octopus.  
Another highlight of the week was our trip to Ras Abu Galum, one of Sinai’s Managed Resource Protected Areas. We went by camel, and the scenery was spectacular! The diving was also amazing, with no other divers present and a high diversity of fishes and corals. The trip ended with a lovely Bedouin dinner in huts along the shore.
Also this week passed very quickly. With mixed feelings we await the next week.  Unfortunately it will be the last for many volunteers.

Yellow frogfish

 

DRM2013-I

DRM2013-I

DRM2013-I

DRM2013-I

Yellow frogfish

Dahab Reef Monitoring I - Weekly Report 3: 14th to 21th March 2013

The third week of the Dahab Reef Monitoring started and finally we did the real surveys. The first survey dive was in the bay in front of “our home” at Lighthouse. The data were collected in a depth of 10m and everything worked out. After this we went out for the next surveys and for this reasons we visited marvelous dive sites like Islands South and Ricks Reef. At some sites we had unforeseeable currents to fight against. That’s why some of us were really low on air and the alternative air sources were used. Nobody was harmed but more experienced. At the end of the week we drove to the dive site Moray Garden which is located at the south of Dahab. Compared to the prior visited this dive site showed a lot of anthropogenic influences. The high algae and sponge abundance underlined this assumption. To sum up we can say this was a really informative and exciting week and we are looking forward to the following.

Yellow frogfish

 

DRM2013-I

DRM2013-I

DRM2013-I

DRM2013-I


Dahab Reef Monitoring I - Weekly Report 2: 8th to 14th March 2013

The second week of Dahab Reef Monitoring I has started and there is a lot to report!
After we had passed 2 tests (fish & invertebrates) successfully, we could rest a little and practice the new things that we have learned under water (including about 100 hand signs – or at least it felt like it!); this means, we had one or two dives a day and tried to identify every single fish that was near us. Sure this is not enough for a real Reef Check, so we just kept studying. Nina, our project leader, tought us a lot about coral damage and the most important characteristics of types of corals and substrate in the Red Sea. After some more dives which we used for practice, we felt prepared for the substrate- and coral damage-test! It wasn´t always easy, but eventually every one of us passed the tests and we could get ready for the real surveys – but still there was some buoyancy practice to do, since we want the corals to be safe of us! Now it was time for last preparations for “real work”: We went to Abu Hilal and Rick´s Reef (outside of Dahab) to do 2 calibration dives. We collected data as if it was a real survey in order to compare it with each other – if everyone counted the same amount of fish, we did a good job! Beside of the work we had to do, we all agreed that those are two amazing dive sites! Between the two dives we needed a lot to eat (like always), so we went to a Bedouin restaurant where we enjoyed real good lunch. Our first real survey we had on Wednesday; everyone did quite well, which showed that our diving skills have already improved in the two weeks since we have arrived. Now we can hover between the corals without being afraid of accidentally hitting them…Look forward to next week´s report about work life in Dahab!

 

 

 

DRM2013-I

 

DRM2013-I

DRM2013-I

DRM2013-I

DRM2013-I

DRM2013-I


Dahab Reef Monitoring I - First Week 28.02. – 07.03.2013


Hello everyone! This is the first report about the Dahab Reef Monitoring. We’ve been here for one week now and already learned a lot. First, we did some check dives and also a couple of buoyancy practices. Laura passed her Open Water Diver so she can join us now. For better understanding what we should do under water during the surveys, we were listening to several lectures about indicator fishes, invertebrates as well as substrate (corals, algae etc.) and damage and predation of corals by our supervisor Nina. Of course we had some free time to get to know Dahab a little bit and to relax in the sun. Today it was our first time in the buoyancy park; there we trained how to get the perfect buoyancy, because we really need this at the surveys. Certainly, we had lots of fun under water and studied new techniques. After this funny work we had to do a test about indicator fishes and invertebrates because we have to identify them under water. We are really excited what is coming in the next weeks.

 

 

DRM2013-I

 

DRM

DRM2013-I

DRM2013-I

DRM2013-I


Dahab Reef Monitoring - First Week 28.02. – 07.03.2013


Hello everyone! This is the first report about the Dahab Reef Monitoring. We’ve been here for one week now and already learned a lot. First, we did some check dives and also a couple of buoyancy practices. Laura passed her Open Water Diver so she can join us now. For better understanding what we should do under water during the surveys, we were listening to several lectures about indicator fishes, invertebrates as well as substrate (corals, algae etc.) and damage and predation of corals by our supervisor Nina. Of course we had some free time to get to know Dahab a little bit and to relax in the sun. Today it was our first time in the buoyancy park; there we trained how to get the perfect buoyancy, because we really need this at the surveys. Certainly, we had lots of fun under water and studied new techniques. After this funny work we had to do a test about indicator fishes and invertebrates because we have to identify them under water. We are really excited what is coming in the next weeks.

 

DRM2013-I

 

DRM

DRM2013-I

DRM2013-I

DRM2013-I


Dahab Reef Monitoring 2012-II – The Last Week (Week 5)

The last week of the Dahab Reef Monitoring project started with the departure of the first volunteer (Katrin Schröder). Time was flying the first four weeks and the end of the project is approaching mercilessly. The rest of the departure day was filled with office work to finish the leftover work, so that nothing was coming into the way of our barbeque in the evening. The following day was a day off for us to recover.  Saturday we did a clean-up dive at Bannerfish Bay.  Sunday we did a survey at Um Sid at ten meters depth and a fun dive at The Caves because the wind was too strong for us to do a survey at five meters depth. The dive spot The Caves was very impressive and was documented with many pictures. The new week then started with a trip to the Tiran Islands at Sharm-el-Sheikh. With the Sinai Divers boat the Ghazala II we did three dives at the popular dive sites Jackson Reef, Thomas Reef and the local site Near Garden. The day before our trip 21 hammerhead sharks were sighted at Jackson Reef, so we were pretty excited. Sadly, we didn’t see any for ourselves. Still it was an experience to be remembered. The next day was windy. We had to cancel the planned survey at the Canyon 5 meters and did a dive at Rick’s Reef instead. In the afternoon the wind got weaker and so we were at least able to do the 10 meter survey at the Canyon. In the evening some volunteers chose to do a fluorescent night dive for the second time and were again overwhelmed by it.  The next day we finished the project dive with an early morning dive at Lighthouse at 5 meters. Now the time of the departures is coming and we still enjoy every minute we have left here in Dahab.

 

 

 

DRM2012

DRM2012

DRM2012


Dahab Reef Monitoring 2012-II – Report Week 4

Week 4 started with an early morning dive at 8 am at “Lighthouse“. A Napoleon wrasse at the beginning of the survey was the highlight of the dive at this quite damaged dive site. In the evening we did a fluorescence night dive. In front of our masks we had special filters to see the fluorescence initiated by the blue light-torches. It was like a journey to another planet. Animals and corals gloomed in the shine of our torches in many different colours and made the dive unique for every one of us. This dive was so far the highlight of all dives until now. The next day we started a survey at “Abu Helal” but the strong current stopped us from finishing it. During this dive we saw a resting sea turtle at this beautiful dive site. On Saturday we had our day-off and used the time to do some cleaning in the house and other different things, especially rebuild for the coming dives. On Sunday we did a survey at “Islands”, which is located at the southern end of the promenade of Dahab. The surveys went well and so we got back early in the afternoon to put in the data into the computer. On Monday we had our second boat trip. There we only did fun dives and enjoyed our time on the deck and under water. The first dive went to 30 m, the second one was a shallow water dive at the lagoon of the Gabr el Bint and the third was a drift dive. The crew of the “Ghazala IV” always was friendly and tried to make our trip as comfortable as possible. After this day we tried again to complete the survey at “Abu Helal”. The current and the wind were not as strong as before and we finished the surveys at 5 and 10 meters. The sea turtle was there again and made this dive special. The decision for “Abu Helal” was correct because the following day the wind increased again and so we were not able to make surveys at “Islands” at 5 m. That’s why we made fun dives at “Blue Hole” and “Bells”. The project dives are over soon but everyone is still highly motivated to face the coming challenges.

 

 

 

DRM2012

DRM2012

DRM2012


Dahab Reef Monitoring 2012-II – Report Week 3

Week 3 started with a survey dive at 5 and 10 meters depth and showed the destructive influence of mass dive tourism. At the end of the dive we saw an octopus camouflaging next to corals several times over a few minutes. It was a great spectacle.  The surveys the following days at “Rick’s Reef“, “Canyon“ and “Blue Hole“ were done with great routine and all of us enjoyed them. The following day we did a night dive at “Mashraba Bay“. We saw a Spanish dancer, a triton shell and a huge grouper. A night dive itself is a fascinating experience. Every diver should do it once in a while to see the underwater world in another perspective. The week’s final was an aborted survey at “Um el Sid” because of a strong current and completion of survey at 15 meters depth in “Moray Garden”. The whole team looks forward to week 4 and the adventures it brings.

 

 

 

DRM2012

DRM2012


Dahab Reef Monitoring 2012-II –Weekly Report 2

It felt like two days, but the second week here in Dahab ended now, too. In the first week we made the skills, necessary for completing surveys, our own. We started into the new week with a film team coming to us from Germany. They wanted to interview and film us, while doing the work here. They are making a show for the Egyptian television about German environmental technologies and wanted to give us some minutes in this show. We got interviewed before and after our dives at the Canyon and the Blue Hole. The Blue Hole and the Canyon were chosen to show the negative impacts of humans on Coral Reefs. Our first real surveys started the next day. We were at the dive spot Rick’s Reef and did one survey on 10 and one on 5 meters depth. The whole survey went smoothly and we collected good data. As expected we also had a lot of fun doing the work. In the afternoon we then learned how to put the data into the matching excel files. This data will be sent to the Reef Check (www.reefcheck.org ) for further analysis.

On the next day a special fun was waiting for us: the boat trip. We shipped off from Dahab with the Sinai Divers boat (Ghazala VI) to reach one of the most beautiful coral reefs in the area. Everyone was very excited about the boat trip. We had lunch after the dives and cold beverages were also provided. The upper deck had a lounge for dozing off and sunbathing. Our first dive was a survey dive at 10 m depth. The corals and fish were overwhelmingly colourful. Gabr-el-Bint is a good example for an intact reef. The second dive was a fun dive where we saw huge gorgonian, trevallies and black snappers. Back at the boat we had time to jump from the upper deck and play around in the water. Additionally we did some snorkelling at Shaab Said and spotted two manta-rays and one sea turtle.

The next two days we had day-off and used the spare time to gain new powers. While some chilled out, others did their advanced open waters dives at Blue Hole and Canyon, which are beautiful dives sites. The following day the most of us did a camel tour to Ras Abu Galum to do some fun dives at a protected area. The dives were well documented by photos and the Bedouin dinner was also really delicious. After that, we had some time to buy some souvenirs from locals. The ride back with the camels was underlined by a beautiful sunset.

 

 

DRM2012

DRM2012

DRM2012

DRM2012


Dahab Reef Monitoring 2012-II – Weekly Report 1

The first week of the Dahab Reef Monitoring has passed.
The culture, the locals and the atmosphere of Dahab impressed each of the team members (Stefanie Götsch, Jana Hildebrand, Natascha Hourle, Claudia Pehamberger, Hanna Scheuffele, Katrin Schröder, Sebastian Schulz, Lucien Untersteggaber). The RSEC-Team (Nina Milton and Abby Stevens) and the members of the Sinai Divers Backpackers welcomed us warmly and helped us with the local habits by giving us good advises and tips. Living together in the RSEC house is not always easy but we manage to keep the harmony in our daily life. Our team-harmony is enhancing our work under water and helps the project in a whole.

To see the colourful underwater world in Dahab in a scientific way needs lectures and practise to guarantee a perfect start of the project. Learning the hand signals was great fun for us and it improves the nonverbal communication during dives immensely. The expertise of Nina and Abby helped us to complete all challenges. At this point a great thank you to those two.

The team is looking happily forward to start the surveys at the beautiful dive-spots of Dahab.

 

 

 

 

DRM2012

DRM2012

DRM2012


Dahab Reef Monitoring 2012-I: Bulletin 1

Since 10. March our team (Nik Petschko, Gwen Schumacher, Sophie Schmitter und Corinne L´Eplattenier) has been instructed by fieldstation manager Nina Milton (thanks Nina for the huge support!!!) how to do Reef Monitorings properly. It was pretty challenging for us laypersons to learn about all the indicators and substrates including the hand signals, but it was great fun :) Since last Monday we already completed three surveys at Rick´s Reef, Moray Garden and Blue Hole, which took us six dives in total. Our goal is to monitor the health of the reef and to recognise unhealthy trends at an early stage. For the survey we split up in buddy teams and collect data about fishes, invertebrates, substrates and trash on the reef. The data is collected in a belt transect of 4x20m on 10m depth. Thereby a balanced buoyancy and a certain amount of flexibility, as example for diving upside down, is very important. RSEC-assistant Abby Stevens tried to teach us these skills in three buoyancy dives last week ;) These trainings opened up completely new vistas in diving to us. Our today-highlight was when we detected a humphead wrasse at Blue Hole :) Now we are looking forward to the next days, which will certainly be at least as exciting as the previous!

 

 

DRM

DRM

DRM   DRM   DRM

Dahab Reef Monitoring 2011 - the last week in Dahab

We finished the last week of the Dahab Reef Monitoring program and most of us are back in Germany. We still had a few survey sites left, for example in Gabr-el-Bint, which means that we did our second boat trip. For many people Gabr-el-Bint is one of the most beautiful dive sites around Dahab because there you have a sandy lagoon, an amazing reef and a steep  wall. Also there aren’t so many divers. One day of week 6 we spent in the protected area of Nabq, which has many different habitats. Chris told us about the mangrove, the wadi and the sand dune and we also discovered the mangrove by snorkeling. The highlight of this week was the fluorescence-nightdive. Equipped with a light filter for our mask and a blue-light torch we dived   Bannerfish Bay with Abby. It was an amazing experience!

The last days were also a little bit stressful because we had to finish the analysis of our data but we managed it. On the last official evening we presented our results and we obtained our Eco-Diver certificate. To celebrate our last days together we went to the Tree Bar where we had a really nice evening. After this we had to say goodbye to Diana, Clarissa, Joschka, Nele and Luisa. It was a strange feeling after living and working together for such a long time.
I think everybody agree with me when I say that the time in Dahab was full of great and unforgettable moments.
Maybe we will be back again in Dahab. We hope so!

 

 

DRM2011

DRM2011

DRM2011


Dahab Reef Monitoring 2011 - Week 4 & 5

Although there were still 2 weeks to go it felt like the project would be over very soon. Because some of us had more dives than the others it was a little complicated to plan the surveys. But besides the surveys there was plenty of work to do outside the water anyways. On Saturday the 17th of September we joined the International Clean Up Day to clean the beaches of Dahab from all the rubbish. Dive Centers and locals were informed about the upcoming event a week before and so we hoped to see a lot of them helping us. Motivated and equipped with trash bags and gloves, we splitted into two groups and started to clean the beach at Lighthouse and also at Mashraba Bay. We were very happy to see that some of the locals decided to grab gloves and join us, although there could have been a lot more. Nevertheless we managed to collect a lot of trash. Maybe the locals will understand soon how important it is to keep the beaches and the water clean, also for their own good. There was especially one survey in week 5 everyone was looking forward to – Blue Hole. Of course, you can`t compare a survey with a fun dive, but nevertheless it was a great experience to dive along the wall with nothing but blue underneath your feet. On this week’s day off some of us decided to climb the famous Mount Sinai to watch the sunrise. After a 2 hour drive we finally arrived at the mountain at about 01:30 in the night. From there it was just a 2 ½ hour walk to the top of the mountain. If you can ignore the masses of tourists walking in a row and if you don`t mind feeling like a camel being pushed up the hill by your guide, it is a really great experience to watch the sunrise up there. On our way down we also visited the St. Catherine’s which is built on the exact same place where the “burning bush” has been.
The tasks for the next week will be to finish the surveys and do all the office work that needs to be done. But we are also looking forward to our second boat trip to Gabr-el-Bint and a trip to the Nabq protectorate to see the mangroves and the Arak dunes.

 

DRM2011

DRM2011

DRM2011


Dahab Reef Monitoring 2011: Report for week 3
Surveys
We spent the third week carrying out surveys in Ricks Reef, Lighthouse, Moray Garden and Abu Helal collecting satisfying results and enjoying the diversity of underwater life. Especially in Abu Helal the view was breathtaking and we saw an incredible amount of farmer fish.


Office work
During the surveys we took overview pictures documenting the transect lines. These pictures needed to be corrected and sharpened due to the colour change under water and assembled in their right order.  Working on them using Adobe Photoshop took us a lot of time, especially the saving process.


Clean up dive & planned beach clean up
We spent two days collecting rubbish underwater in order to protect animals and especially corals from damage. These dives were not only useful for marine life but it was also an amazing experience as we encountered a huge turtle having its lunch in the bay. It did not care about our group approaching so Kathi was able to take awesome photos. Finally, it floated gently to the surface. We left the water carrying huge trash bags. But not only marine life needs to be protected from pollution, cleaning the beaches of Dahab is equally important. Due to this necessity we started planning a beach cleanup event for the 17th of September joining the worldwide beach cleanup day, inviting tourists and locals to participate.


Free time activities
On our day off our group was divided in two: The majority went for a dive to the Islands and was overwhelmed by the size of porites corals. The minority enjoyed a wonderful trip to the Coloured Canyon getting to know the desert side of Egypt. Not only our day off was used for group activities: On Tuesday the whole team went  to the Tree Bar for a farewell party since our Greek team member Sophia is going to leave on Monday L
All in all we had a lovely and successful week with loads of sunshine.

 

DRM2011

DRM2011


Dahab Reef Monitoring 2011 - Week 1 & 2

Once we arrived at the airport we got a transfer to our apartment in Dahab where our project supervisor Nina was waiting for us. We went with her directly to the dive center where the RSEC institute is located. On our way to the center we got some first impressions of the city of Dahab. On the next day we had our first project dive in which Nina and Abby checked on our diving experience. The following days we had to work on our diving skills which included buoyancy practice and accurate movement under water. Our goal was to be in a head down position the whole time and to keep buoyancy while writing on underwater slates. We realized how hard it is to keep an eye on the reef shape and our own position in the water as well as watching your depth and checking on you air, whilst all the time still having to search for indicator species and being aware of where your buddy is. 
The first days we had to learn a lot about the important indicator species. We had to recognize fish, invertebrates, substrates and coral damages correctly under water and collect the relevant data. Additionally we had to practice a lot of underwater signs to be able to communicate to our buddies. Although this was a lot of work the sun, the ocean and the diving made us have a wonderful time and gave us a little bit of holiday feeling. Besides that it was a lot of fun to increase your diving skills and it was very interesting to learn about the ecology of coral reefs. 
Above all we had the beautiful coral reefs by which we are surrounded every day while we are doing our work.
Although there is lots of preparation we have always enough time to do something else. We can do other dives, go snorkelling or even have trips by camels and quads in the desert. It is possible to see the mangroves, the National Parks and go on other sight seeing trips such as seeing Moses Mountain. It just needs a bit of coordination with our nice leader of the project. After 10 days intensive species training the real survey work starts. 
During the calibration dive the leader evaluates the skills and expertise of the volunteers to make sure that we already can to do a real survey, because all the data need to be correct. But the calibration dive shows that we are not quite ready. We need some more practice and routine to accomplish real surveys. At Rick's Reef we did a survey to practice our skills and nearly got a survey with evaluable data. 
At the following day we had a nice boat trip to Gabr el Bint, one of the best diving spots, to make our first survey. It was a survey in 10 meters depth and with a strong current. That is why all of us had problems to finish the survey, but we managed the situation and are proud to get our first data sets to enter into the computer.

 

DRM2011

DRM2011

DRM2011

DRM2011


Weekly bulletins of DRM2010:    

Week 7 bulletin - The End

Monday 13.09.2010
After the nice trip to Ras Mohammed and Ras Umm Sid, we had to do another Survey. The way led us to the south, where in the morning the 5 m transect in Umm Sid was done. The wind was very strong for the last days and therefore it was a very hard work we did on the 5 m. This was the reason why we decided to cancel the 5m survey in Southern Oasis and to go to the Caves and cut out fishing lines instead. At this dive site you have to jump into the water from the steep edge, which makes the exit more difficult. Under water it became clear that the clean up was necessary; a coral block on 20 m  was full of fishing lines. After a while of cutting fishing lines we discovered the beautiful caves. On the ceilings were a lot of sponges and black corals growing.

Tuesday 14.09.2010
This time Christian wanted to do the 10 m transect in Abu Helal...but as it was usual the last days the wind was too strong and the waves were too high. When there is a high wave action the entry and exit is almost life threatening for the divers and for the corals growing there for sure. After a short consultation, we decided to go to Blue hole instead. On the saddle of the Blue hole Christian found some corals, which were eaten by the Crown-of-Thorns-Starfish and he signalled us to look for the starfish, but we didn’t find it.
In the evening we had our big Good-Bye-Party, where we had some presentations on our data we collected during the project, we got our certificates and had our following party.

Wednesday 15.09.2010
This was the last day for most of us and we had to be in the Office at around 11 am. We went all together to the Yalla for having breakfast. The data were checked and the things were packed and in the evening was the big good-bye.

Thursday 16.09.2010
Official end of the Dahab Reef Monitoring & Reef Conservation Project
While most of the volunteers were leaving a small group went with Nina, Lydia and Steffi with the boat to Gabr el Bint.


Bye Bye and Auf Wiedersehen, see us next year.

 

Text: Christina Hörterer

 

 

 

 

DRM2010

DRM2010

DRM2010

DRM2010

DRM2010


Week 6 bulletin – last days of the DRM 2010 (by Sahil Puri)
Sunday 5.9.2010
On this particular day it was time for the “Thistlegorm”. The Thistlegorm was an English warship which was sunk in 1941 by a German Bomber near the entrance of the Gulf of Suez. The famous Jacque Cousteau has rediscovered this ship for the modern sport divers and so we can now enjoy it down on 30m. Down there one can admire lots of interesting stuff such as army rubber boots, motor bikes and air defence canons including old bombs. Two dives were planned for this wrack. We were supervised by some beautiful red soldier fish looking at us with their huge eyes through the light beam of our diving lamps. The third dive was reserved for the Shark-& Yolanda Reef located at the Ras Mohamed National park. The wrack of the sunken Yolanda was dashed down to 600m depth in the meanwhile. It carried cargo items such as toilets which were distributed all over the bottom ground of the Reef flat. Beside these objects we could admire 3 huge Napoleons, 2 Stonefish, 2 Crocodile fish with their amazing camouflage techniques, 9 Moray eels and two blue spot sting rays chilling in the sandy ground. As we returned to our base camp at night we could say Hi to a just freshly landed Diploma student from Germany. His aim of his stay will be to learn more about the ecology of so called Vermetides (Vermetidae or Wormshells).

Monday 6.9.2010
Today we visited the famous coloured- and white canyons with a tour guide who helped us with one of our beach-clean-ups. They are located in northern Dahab next to a city named Nuweiba. With us on the tour was a lovely Iranian guy holding a Swedish passport with which one could enjoy a lovely round of Back Gammon in the evening to finish off the day with a chilled out activity. Two of our Swiss volunteers had to stay back with ear problems, colds, etc. for several days and had therefore no chance to dive. Instead they were enjoying some nice Antibiotic drops.

Tuesday 7.9.2010
Today we had a survey at the dive spot Islands North on 15m depth. Again there was a strong current and so we had to calculate enough air for diving all the way back from the survey sight against the current. During the survey we were visited by a giant turtle and could watch it from short distance while it was feeding on several algae species. Additionally there was new stuff to learn about. Some people imagined to have seen a black band disease (coral disease) but it rather turned out that this was a normal warzone between two hard coral species (incrusting and porites columnar) which were involved in a chemical war to win territory. Back on land the last ID-tests were carried out for some freshly arrived volunteers. Congratulations go out to Steffi and Nicole. At night there was a fluorescence dive at Banner fish Bay including Stone fish and fire worm.

Wednesday 8.9.2010
This day was more or less carried out in the “dry” office. Office day, yeah! With cleaning utensils and improvised cleaning instruments we gave back the glory and shining look to our yard. After the floor soaked up all the water, we were able to start working on the transect images in Photoshop. Parallel to this great procedure the second group was on the way to the Nabq national park to admire the mangroves and the halophytic plants there. Meanwhile Christian (the Boss) got a phone call from Australia about our rescue operation of the small Turtle Nessaja. The call came from a well-known activist who used to live in Dahab for years. He had analysed our pictures and found out that something was wrong. With his hint and with counting the head-plates again, we found out that the small turtle was not a “Hawksbill”, but a “Loggerhead”. Loggerhead turtles are pretty rare here in this region.

Thursday 9.9.2010
Clean Up day...and action! The same procedure as every Thursday. We hang up the “Clean Up”-Sign at our terrace and the Clean Up-Box was prepared. At the last beach Clean up an employee of the “Lazy Camel“ restaurant had promised us two Pick Up’s, but as everyone knows, a good plan is no plan, so the Jeeps were not available. “No problem, next time” we thought. The last time the Seven Heaven Dive Center had promised us free dives, while they were cheering at us and thanking for our work. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get our free dives, because we had a lot to do during our Reef Conservation Project. The first thing we did on this day was the under-water-clean-up at Bannerfish Bay. In the afternoon before the beach-clean-up we had another mission. At Bannerfish Bay was a beautiful bubble coral, which had broken into pieces a few weeks ago. Several pieces were lying in the sand. We went under water to fix it and tried to recreate the habitat it had been offering to so many fish and other animals. In a group of five helpers we tried to put it piece by piece together again like a puzzle. The mission was successful. Afterwards we made our beach clean up before we went to have dinner, while the Ramadan came slowly to an end.

Friday 10.9.2010
A survey in Abu Helal was planned. The dive site was to all of us (nearly all of us) completely new. Abu Helal is in the north of Dahab, right before the Canyon dive site. The wave action was very high at this morning. The forecast of “windguru” failed – again. The author of this article wasn’t lucky at all. His O-ring of the regulator got broken and the spare stuff was defect as well, so the dive was cancelled for him. BUT, what a surprise, there was enough work on the beach. Equipped with a rubbish bag and a rubber glove the prevented diver went along the beach, while the others were in the cool water. At least he was accompanied by a desiccated blue spotted stingray and a spotted Eel.

Saturday 11.9.2010
Day off

Sunday 12.9.2010
After a day of relaxing we went on the desperately desired Trip to Ras Mohamed. Three dives, two at Shark- and Yolanda Reef and one at Ras Ghozlani, were planned. But after the first dive there were some complications with one of the tanks and a little mass panic broke out. Because of this we had to go back to Sharm el Sheikh to exchange all tanks. Therefore we had to cancel one dive and went to Ras Umm Sid. Here we recognized that some snorkelers were standing on the reef table right in front of the hotels. After a short discussion that they should not be standing on the corals, we were able to start our last dive. Ras Mohammed was a very nice place for diving except for all the noises made by the ships’ motors.

 

DRM2010

DRM2010

DRM2010

DRM2010

DRM2010

DRM2010

DRM2010

DRM2010

DRM2010

DRM2010


Dahab - Week 5
Week five in Dahab containes a lot of different mottos: Thrill in Tiran, Romance in the desert by night, fun in the waves in front of Ras Abu Galum and of course the surveys. Some brave participants made out to watch out in the deep of Tiran for hammerhead sharks, which stay there between may and September. Previously the others had a lot of fun to tell them legends about the meetings between divers and sharks. So they narrated of aggressive sharks or they imagined how to behave, if you are circuit by a swarm. That this is not really realistic was clear for everybody but it was fun anyway. But some of us were really lucky, they saw sharks, but most of them were far away. Anyway all the members enjoyed the dive in the deep, blue water, because it felt like flying and some did a very nice water dance like Susi-I remember :-)))
A spirit completely different was while we did our desert excursion. The mystic atmosphere during the Bedouin dinner leads to a rare, devotional calmness. We all liked the flickering light of the campfire, the starry night, the sweet flavor of the Bedouin tee and the tasty food and dreamed of life in the desert. Some of us climbed a small mountain next to the camp. With the coming down Martin w as very creative, he used his flip flops to surf down the mountain. The search for the mars brought us in the desert again. So in this night we should see the mars next to the moon. The intense stare to the beautiful sky - we could not see the mars - made us so tired, that after one hour more or less half of the group felt in a sleep.


Our third boat-trip brought us - finally - to Ras Abu Galum, famous for its unique coral reef and steep face. Before we could enjoy this, we had to pass the two hour trip with the boat, which went through big wave crests. So the trip, especially in the front of the boat was more like a wet rollercoaster. So the entry in the water was delicate, because the boat was swinging, that two of us - ready to dive - nearly flew of the ship. But the beautiful underwater world compensated the strains.    

   
We did the surveys at known and not known dive sites like Um Sid, Moray Garden, the canyon and Southern Oasis. In nearly every trip was a small highlight: attacks of small cleaner wrasses, who did not only clean mouth and ears, the bit the anguished divers also in the legs, a huge one meter big grouper, who did not like the moving around a so he did a big bite in the transect line, or an octopus, who cowered under a coral and thought that we did not see it.


Hope a lot more of those experiences will wait for us!!!  


Text: Nina Liebrecht


Photos: Christian Alter & Volunteers

 

 

 

Dinner

Abu Galum Trip

Abu Galum Trip

Sternenhimmel

Nina


Week 4 bulletin - Profit and Loss at RSEC

The Austrian Team’s score is 2:1 – after the substrate-dreamteam Verena and Gerald has been replaced by Newbie Stefanie, who however has to pass lots of exams in order to obtain a similar status. Germany is happily superior in numbers now, thanks to Nicole. Rubina, the Drupella-Whisperer, leaving way too early, has turned the Swiss into a sad minority.

 

Last but not least, Dr. Moshira Hassan, our beloved German/Egyptian marine biologist.. Wait, stop, until now, we can’t find the words to describe her departure. She spontaneously took over the supervision of the volunteer-family because Daddy Christian left for Reef Check work in Safaga. Putting heart and soul into our trainings and surveys, and of course because of her amazing knowledge of the marine flora and fauna, our underwater performance improved a lot. Questions have been discussed as well as coral feeding snails despite their perfect camouflage and feeding scars of the Crown of Thorns been spied.

 

Also on land Moshiras and our interest in the wonders of nature knows no bounderies. That’s why some of us took the chance to go to Nabq with Moshira, learning about the deserts flora and enjoying a unique snorkelling trip in the mangroves of the Nationalpark.

 

All in all, we will miss Moshira’s enthusiasm, but we totally got infected with it. As well as the many beduines who helped us with cleaning up the beaches around the divesite Blue Hole and laughed with us while drinking tea. 

 

Despite of goodbye tears it still was a beautiful week!!

 

Text: Sofia van Moorsel / Edith Heinrich

 

Dr. Moshira Hassan

Good bye Moshira

Dr. Moshira Hassan

Good bye Rubina

Gerald & Verena

Good bye Gerald & Verena


Week 3 bulletin. Happy faces!! The surveys are running pretty well in the meantime – after the daily group assignment and the essential buddy check we are rushing into the water, well knowing where the bottles are stored and what to do under water. The data is collected within one dive and absolutely useable. But that's not the only reason for high spirits. The end of lectures and open questions provides the opportunity to use the spare time for activities off the timetable. Nightdiving at the so called Lighthouse is only one of the possibilities. Even if the spot is one of the most crowded one's around Dahab, it shows unseen beauty by night. Spanish dancer, colourchanging octopus, hundreds of red eyes leading you to crabs and shrimps hiding in the corals, featherstars and moving sea urchins are the faunal highlights of the week.

 

The Ghazala VI - not a gazelle of course, otherwise we're back in the world of animals – the Sinai Divers Backpackers boat took us to one of the best spots the Sinai offers. Gabr El Bint has the most amazing live coral coverage we have seen and examined so far even though it´s not an insider´s tip at all. Apart from that we enjoyed the boat trip in total. Taking a nap or reading on the sundeck, jumping off the boat, snorkeling and, my compliments to the cook, a wonderful lunch.

 

For the ones interested in culture and hiking there was another major event this week. About 3000 steps led them up to 2200m, to the top of the Mount Sinai to watch the sun rise. Covered in warm clothes and tired after a sleepless night, even the most exhausted ones knew why they hiked up the mountain. Visiting St. Katherine's Monastery and other famous holy sites made them even forget about paying 5 Egyptian Pound per pee.

 

More about hours of cutting and editing pictures, data input and analysis, report writing and so on, probably next time.. - the mood is just to good at the moment!!

 

Text: Edith Heinrich

Pictures: Nina Milton & Volunteers 

 

 

DRM2010

DRM2010

DRM2010

DRM2010


Week 2 bulletin (8.-15.8.2010) from the Coral Reef Monitoring Camp in Dahab

Also the second week in Dahab was full of adventures. On one hand we finished our indicator exams successfully and felt more self-confident, on the other hand we knew that our first survey was waiting for us.

Such a survey works as following: First you mark the area of interest with nylon lines. Then the transect is divided into four distinct areas. In these parts the type of substrate, fishes, invertebrates and the amount of coral damage are registered and written down on a special underwater slate. Always two divers are responsible for one of those topics. Later the data is analysed in order to obtain statistical results.

 As you can imagine, the first survey included some difficulties. A big problem was to outlay the lines properly on the sea bed without damaging the corals, especially with a small current and hungry parrot fish. Also the diving position –head down, feet up – was quite difficult. That is probably why some of us got water in the mouth, nearly hit the reef or felt their stomach contents coming up their throat.  Also, it was funny to see others trying to untangle the lines with only one hand, because the other hand was occupied by the slate. All over, our survey went surprisingly well: We were able to read our handwriting after the dive. Additionally we not only left the reef undamaged, but also got back to the dive center unharmed, even though our driver was driving like a Formula 1 pilot - while we were sitting in the back of the Pick-Up. Now we are looking forward to further surprises next week.

 

Text: Nina Liebrecht

Photos: Christian Alter

 

DRM2010

DRM2010


Week 1 bulletin (30.-7.8.2010) from the Coral Reef Monitoring Camp in Dahab, Egypt.
Allah Akbar…every day we can hear the calls for the prayers from several Mosques behind our Camp office terrace. It still seems to be a great mystery for us volunteers why the ancient people of Egypt worshiped the sun. Even though we do have some cooling winds, the average temperature of 40°C is exhausting. One day we actually measured 49°C in the shadow. But, thank god, this is not the normal temperature here. Sometimes at night it gets even warmer than during the day when there is a sudden wind breakdown. In those moments we would really love to have air condition in our rooms. Already after the first two days we also had some people with stomach problems, which were probably caused by salad and ice cubes inside the soft drinks. And now a few words about the dives and our actual work.    
Everybody completed the first training dives successfully. As preparation for the actual work each one of us had to learn all the fish, invertebrate, coral and substrate ID’s on the roof of the Sinai Divers Station in our cozy class room. The actual goal is that we are able to differentiate indicator organisms from all the other beautiful creatures on the reef, within the upcoming week. This is a rather challenging task, considering the great biodiversity in the Red Sea. However, while walking past all the restaurants in the evening, sadly, one can see a lot of the indicator fishes and invertebrates lying on ice, which we can hardly find anymore in their natural habitat beneath the ocean surface. To be able to discuss the different species underwater, we had to learn and memorize our own sign language with specific hand signals for all the organisms. We even had to learn some special Latin and biologically relevant words. As already mentioned it is quite difficult to use all the acquired knowledge with all the fascinating beauty of the underwater fauna.  
Since all of the 17 volunteers received their own RSEC uniforms (t-shirts) all of us have been moving like an organized fish swarm between the restaurants and shops as a united “coral reef army”. Every now and then we dive into local supermarkets to save some money. However, as usually here in Dahab, we can observe extreme daily fluctuations of prices (obviously it depends weather you are a tourist or not). Now each of us only has to pass the final exams about ID’s and then we can get started with the surveys. Everyone is looking forward to start the actual work, because we all have a common dream and goal: saving this wonderful and valuable ecosystem.

Text: Sahil Puri

Photos: Christian Alter

 

DRM2010

DRM2010

DRM2010


Fishing net Assalah Beach

On September 20 th  2009, thirteen divers went to Assalah beach. A specific task was on the days agenda. Jessica of DESC volunteer ranger in Dahab, and some volunteers from the Red Sea Environmental Centre went out to free a certain area from several abandoned fishing nets that were covering significant parts of the reef and corals. Moreover, fishing nets can also be a threat to marine life, as fish or turtles can end up in the nets and eventually die. Jessica, who discovered the net a few days ago, realised that it was impossible to cut out the nets snorkelling. Hence, she asked RSEC and some volunteers for help.

Arriving at the dive site, it became obvious that the entrance is not going to be easy. Nevertheless, shallow water and a fairly choppy sea couldn't stop the volunteers from diving. Lacking a proper entrance, the volunteers had to find their own way to get over the reef flat. First and foremost, everybody had to watch out for the corals underneath, as nobody wanted to cause any damage to them. This factor certainly hampered the project, however, after a while everybody got in safe and sound.

The divers discovered a twofold situation. On the one hand, the reef was in a well good condition and a lot of fish accompanied the team during the dive. Due to the fact that not many divers or snorkellers have been to this part of the bay, e.g. the amount of broken corals was significantly less concerning than in Bannerfish Bay or Lighthouse. Schools of barracudas, unicorn fish, snappers and many rudderfish observed the 'operation'. On the other hand, there were more fishing nets found than expected. As already mentioned, these nets can be a serious threat to the marine life. A few days earlier, a turtle's corpse was found at Assalah beach and even though one can not be 100 per cent sure, this incident might well be related to the fishing nets. Turtles can either get stuck in those nets or careless fisherman catch turtles accidental and throw them away afterwards.
After an exhausting dive, lasting for more than 100 minutes, the team decided to come back the next day as so much more nets have to be removed. After all, the two days at Assalah beach were well worth the effort. The amount of fishing nets removed during the two dives was outstanding and everyone involved was satisfied with the outcome.    

        
Regarding the obvious threat those nets pose, it is of substantial relevance to propel the removal. Hence, it would be of much help if any nets found somewhere in the Dahab area, are reported to the RSEC. If reported, the RSEC can take appropriate measures to remove them immediately to prevent them from causing any further damage.  

 

Text: Sarah Schnurr & Jan Kliem

Photos: Nina Milton

 

Net removal Assalah

Net removal Assalah

Net removal Assalah

Net removal Assalah


Reef Check Survey at Nemo Reef

The Nemo Reef is a small fringing reef in Masbat Bay, situated at the central shore of Dahab, right in front of the Red Sea Environmental Centre. Due to its favourable position in Dahab and the easy access the bay offers, it is highly frequented by snorkelers. Furthermore, six restaurants are bordering directly to the shore. Consequentually, a high degree of anthropological influence to the reef seems to be inevitable. The aim of our survey at Nemo Reef was to record the biodiversity and the degree of coral damage of this site. This objecitve is predominant in each survey conducted as part of the Dahab Reef Monitoring, which is an extended Reef Check survey where several dive sites of Dahab are surveyed by a Reef Check team.

We recorded four types of data: Fish, Invertebrates and Trash, Coral Damage and Substrate. 
Only organisms which are indicators of overfishing, overharvesting and aquarium collection were considered. Three different transects that were positioned parallel to each other at a depth of approximately one to two meters were surveyed. We did the surveys on three days between the 4th and the 11th of September.

Indicator fish like Butterflyfish, Bluestreak cleaner wrasses, Surgeonfish and „Farmer fish“ were recorded. In addition, we found groupers up to a size of 30 cm.
 Notably, the number of Long spined sea urchins was striking: Both, in the inner and in the middle transect belt over 200 individuals per 20 meter segment were found, in the outer transect at least 100. Also Purple coral snails were overrepresented with numbers of 112 to 224 in the inner transect belt.
A high rate of predation was noticed, especially a notable amount of damage caused by Purple coral snails (Coralliophilia violacea), a small snail, usuallay found on Porites corals. There was also a high percentage of detached coral colonies or colonies with breakage.
Another noteworthy point is the hard coral coverage in the shallow area (inner transect belt), which is quite high. The rest of the substrate consists of algae, rock, rubble and sand.

One of the greatest threats to coral reefs is mass tourism. At the beginning of peak season, corals are exposed to high impact caused by snorkelers and swimmers, standing on the corals of the reeftop. Even in Nemo Reef we can find numerous traces of human impact. Besides human impact, also extraordinary amounts of urchins can devastate their environment, creating what biologists call an urchin barren, devoid of macroalgae and associated fauna (ref. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 2007).
Another major issue at Nemo Reef are the restaurants along the beach. Some are fishing occasionally, hence causing damage to the reef. We found numerous fishing lines and fishing nets that covered and killed a lot of corals in the reef. Many of these fishing lines and nets have already been removed  during several underwater clean-up dives by volunteers from the RSEC.

In order to prevent any further damage and to maintain a healthy reef, everybody can contribute without too much personal effort but with great positive effect on the reef. Eating a responsible amount of indigenous fish in the local restaurants is one aspect. Another thing everybody can do is being careful with the movement of fins or feet whilst snorkeling or swimming and nobody should throw rubbish anywhere but in the bins provided.

Concluding, it is to be mentioned that people should be aware of Nemo Reef, of its beauty as well as of its problems. The fact that this beautiful patch is perfectly situated right next to the shore implies advantages as well as threats. Tourists and locals must not take its relatively well condition for granted, nor should anyone put this condition at risk.

Text: Sven Schleifer & Marlen Fröhlich

Photos: Christian Alter

 

Nemo Reef

Nemo Reef

Nemo Reef

Nemo Reef

Nemo Reef

Nemo Reef


Dahab Reef Monitoring Project 2009

The Dahab Reef Monitoring (“DRM”) project was set up to run over six weeks during the summer, from the start of August until 12th September. It is part of the global Reef Check initiative but has been expanded by RSEC to also record data specific to the region.

RSEC has had around 25 volunteers take part this year. Whilst the majority are German there are also volunteers from England, Spain and Switzerland, plus the staff at RSEC and the dive centre it is associated with (Sinai Divers) include Norwegian and Egyptian nationals, so overall the group has been pretty mixed! Some volunteers have just stayed for just 2 weeks but many are students, teachers or on a career break and so have been able to commit to the full six weeks of reef monitoring.

The DRM began with one week of training, which comprised a series of presentations to teach volunteers about the indicator species in each of the four categories to be surveyed. The four categories are: fish, invertebrates (lobster, shrimp, shells, snails, sea cucumbers etc), substrate (recording what is on the sea bed, e.g. coral, rock, sand) and coral damage. Volunteers were taught how to recognise certain indicators and then taken on training dives with a Reef Check trainer to test their new-found knowledge.

Text: Penny Cygan

Photos: Christian Alter

 

DRM2009

DRM2009


DRM2009
DRM2009
  DRM2009
       
DRM2009
DRM2009
  DRM2009

Dahab Reef Monitoring & Reef Conservation Project started 1.8.2009

Today, twelve motivated volunteers began training for the Dahab Reef Monitoring. In a first scuba dive, they identified different families of fish as indicators for the local reef’s health. During the next days, they prove their talents in recognizing further inhabitants of the reef.

DRM2009 Team

Fishing net Assalah Beach

On September 20 th  2009, thirteen divers went to Assalah beach. A specific task was on the days agenda. Jessica of DESC volunteer ranger in Dahab, and some volunteers from the Red Sea Environmental Centre went out to free a certain area from several abandoned fishing nets that were covering significant parts of the reef and corals. Moreover, fishing nets can also be a threat to marine life, as fish or turtles can end up in the nets and eventually die. Jessica, who discovered the net a few days ago, realised that it was impossible to cut out the nets snorkelling. Hence, she asked RSEC and some volunteers for help.

Arriving at the dive site, it became obvious that the entrance is not going to be easy. Nevertheless, shallow water and a fairly choppy sea couldn't stop the volunteers from diving. Lacking a proper entrance, the volunteers had to find their own way to get over the reef flat. First and foremost, everybody had to watch out for the corals underneath, as nobody wanted to cause any damage to them. This factor certainly hampered the project, however, after a while everybody got in safe and sound.

The divers discovered a twofold situation. On the one hand, the reef was in a well good condition and a lot of fish accompanied the team during the dive. Due to the fact that not many divers or snorkellers have been to this part of the bay, e.g. the amount of broken corals was significantly less concerning than in Bannerfish Bay or Lighthouse. Schools of barracudas, unicorn fish, snappers and many rudderfish observed the 'operation'. On the other hand, there were more fishing nets found than expected. As already mentioned, these nets can be a serious threat to the marine life. A few days earlier, a turtle's corpse was found at Assalah beach and even though one can not be 100 per cent sure, this incident might well be related to the fishing nets. Turtles can either get stuck in those nets or careless fisherman catch turtles accidental and throw them away afterwards.
After an exhausting dive, lasting for more than 100 minutes, the team decided to come back the next day as so much more nets have to be removed. After all, the two days at Assalah beach were well worth the effort. The amount of fishing nets removed during the two dives was outstanding and everyone involved was satisfied with the outcome.    

        
Regarding the obvious threat those nets pose, it is of substantial relevance to propel the removal. Hence, it would be of much help if any nets found somewhere in the Dahab area, are reported to the RSEC. If reported, the RSEC can take appropriate measures to remove them immediately to prevent them from causing any further damage.  

 

Text: Sarah Schnurr & Jan Kliem

Photos: Nina Milton

 

Net removal Assalah

Net removal Assalah

Net removal Assalah

Net removal Assalah


Dahab Reef Monitoring 2007 - 17.8.- 8.9.2007

Scientist Christian Alter from the Red Sea Environmental Centre (RSEC) in Dahab has designed a reef-monitoring programme based on an extension of the standard Reef Check procedure. This extended Reef Check protocol, the ‘Dahab Reef Monitoring’, aims at a significantly higher resolution of both qualitative and quantitative information of selected reef areas. In short, the surveys on fishes and invertebrates, respectively, hold additional indicator species, and the substrate survey offers a diversification of over 30 categories. A forth survey, on coral damage, provides a comprehensive data set on coral injuries produced by natural causes (predation by coral-feeders) as well as human impact (breakage and abrasion). The survey uses volunteers for data recording. The volunteers are trained in identifying the indicator organisms and the different types of coral damage.

The training for Dahab Reef Monitoring 2007 started on the 17th of August with presentation of the theory. The next day we practiced under water with training transects. On day three we had a test to see if everybody could identify the indicator organisms.
The surveys started on day four at Abu Helal, a dive site north of Dahab. During the next weeks we went to different dive sites all around Dahab.
We surveyed the amazing Blue Hole with its great steep wall. We visited Shaab Said, a dive site which is not often visited by divers. Here you can see lots of enormous coral blocks which are still in good condition. At Gabr el Bint we got a big surprise, a huge whale shark was passing by right after we finished our transect. This was not the only amazing visitor we had during the Reef Check, at Golden Blocks a manta ray was swimming right over our heads.
But we didn’t always have good company. One day some divers cut our transect line and tried to take it away but we caught them and got back our lines.
However, usually we got good backup from the tourists and also from the locals.
To join the Dahab Reef Monitoring was a really nice experience and all of us learned a lot about marine life and how to protect it! We are very glad that we could make a little contribution to help protecting Sinais’ unique environment.

Teams
Coral Damage: Barna Kasiba and Nina Milton (Austria, Norway)
Fish: Claudia Pogoreutz and Julia Schnetzer (Austria , Germany), Vicky and Tobias von Mach (Germany)
Invertebrates: Katja Trübenbach and Susi Greiner (Germany, Austria), Laurent Guyard and Kevin Lee Payne (France, South Africa)
Substrate: Team Scientist Christian Alter (Germany), Dr. Alexander Keck
GPS and Preparations: Karsten Block and Marie-Kristin Fonfara (Germany)

Authors: Julia Schnetzer / Nina Milton

 

1. Boot trip1st Boot trip to Gabr-el-bint

DRM2nd Boot trip to Gabr-el-bint

DRMFirst transect

Volontäre beim AbschlusstestParticipants at the final exam

 


Monitoring South Sinai's Coral Reefs:
Dahab Reef Monitoring

Dr. Alexander Keck and Christian Alter

Reef scientists at the Red Sea Environmental Centre (RSEC) in Dahab (South Sinai, Gulf of Aqaba), are presently observing a human impact on the reefs of Dahab of apparently substantial magnitude. Their observations are based on sightings from numerous dives, snorkelling transects and near-shore inspections and reveal almost daily violations of National Parks' regulations. Among frequent violations they record net and line fishing within reef areas, mechanical coral damage by fishermen as well as recreational snorkelers and divers and solid waste pollution. Owing to these sightings, the scientists felt a pressing need for thorough documentation of the overall health status of the coral reefs and their linked habitats.

With approval from the National Parks of Egypt (under the Ministry of Environmental Affairs), and in collaboration with Reef Check Europe and Egypt, the RSEC has designed a reef monitoring programme based on an extension of the standard Reef Check procedure. This extended Reef Check protocol, the ‘Dahab Reef Monitoring’, aims at a significantly higher resolution of both qualitative and quantitative information of selected reef areas. In short, the surveys on fishes and invertebrates, respectively, hold additional indicator species, and the substrate survey offers a diversification of over 30 categories. A forth survey, on coral damage, provides a comprehensive data set on coral injuries produced by natural causes (predation by coral-feeders) as well as human impact (breakage and abrasion).

It is clear that such a monitoring effort demands more capabilities from the volunteers who are to participate in the surveys. There are some eligibility criteria, such as good diving experience and adequate (reef-)biological knowledge. Experience from former participation in Reef Check surveys will add to one’s qualification, but is not a must. Still, appropriate training will be given in any case, and the identification skills of each participant are tested before the start of the surveys to ensure success of a monitoring campaign and the reliability of its results.

Results of the ‘Dahab Reef Monitoring’ will not only provide core data for the global Reef Check database, but are particularly intended to serve as a basic tool in conservation management of the South Sinai coastal environment. The data will provide greater detail, specificity and validity for interpretation, better detectability of changes in reef health and thus assist resource managers of the protected areas in design and implementation of environmental action plans. Anyhow, the procedures of the ‘Dahab Reef Monitoring’ are by no means restricted to Dahab and its surroundings, but may well be applied to other reef sites both along the Gulf of Aqaba and further sites along Egyptian Red Sea shores.

 

DRM

Reef Check DE

DRM

DRM


 

 

DRM