Swimming With Dolphins in Egypt

Swimming With Dolphins in Egypt
For centuries, people have revered dolphins for their intelligence, speed and grace. Swimming with wild dolphins ranks high among exotic activities that many nature adventure travelers must accomplish. Many dolphin species inhabit the vast bodies of water around the world including the Bahamas, Australia and Hawaii. The clear and warm waters of the Red Sea in Egypt are home to many pods of spinner and bottlenose dolphins, and tour operators report at least an 80 percent chance of dolphin swim encounters since 2003.

Samadai Project

Samadai Reef is a crescent-shaped offshore area also known as Dolphin House, located about 3 miles from Marsa Alam. As of 2001, the reef is protected by a signed agreement between the Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA), Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEFA) and the National Parks Authority of Egypt. The Samadai Project establishes various zones for diving, snorkeling or swimming plus a closed area wherein wild dolphins are free from human intrusion. The usual 2,500 daily visitors were limited to just 200 per day. From October to December 2003, Samadai Reef was closed to the public. Abu Salama Society, which is comprised of local authorities and organizations, studied the declining conditions within the area and the fewer number of dolphins returning. Samadai Reef reopened in January 2004 under a new micromanagement plan and monitoring program, which further reduced visitors to 10 boats and 150 people per day. It is a premier and sustainable dolphin habitat.

Reputable Operators

Diving Ocean and Wild and Free are two reputable companies that implement eco-friendly rules to protect their patrons and the dolphins in their natural habitat, such as forbidding chasing or feeding them. Patrons will wear snorkels, masks, fins and life jackets during dolphin swims.

Diving Ocean, a diving center operating out of the Tulip Resort in Marsa Alam, is a founding member of Abu Salama Society and continues to help sustain and improve the conditions of Samadai Reef. It provides eco-friendly daily diving and snorkeling trips to Samadai Reef and other sites.

Diving Ocean at Tulip Resort
Marsa Alam, Egypt
011 (+20) 101 754 354
divingocean.com

UK-based Wild and Free operates out of EcoLodge Village, an ecovillage set up as a dive center for snorkelers and divers and offers dolphin swim programs at Samadai Reef three days a week.

Wild and Free at EcoLodge Village
Marsa Alam, Egypt
011 (+20) 104 444 489
dolphinswims.co.uk

Proper Conduct

The International Dolphin Watch advises appropriate behavior and vigilance during dolphin encounters for a positive and enjoyable experience. Swimmers should stay close to their boat or land and let dolphins initiate interaction. Swimmers should not touch the dolphin's blowhole or panic if dolphins become boisterous and they are nipped or hit. Instead, they should keep their arms to their side and swim quietly away. A buoyancy aid is recommended for those who are not strong swimmers.

Considerations

Should you decide to swim with dolphins in enclosed pools instead of in their natural habitat, keep in mind that captive dolphin facilities may not be following regulations. Dolphinella in Hadaba, Sharm El Sheikh violated Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and European Association for Aquatic Mammals (EAAM) regulations for not adequately protecting dolphins from prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, and for not implementing safety measures before patrons pose for photos with dolphins

Article Written By Cristina Dimen

Cristina Dimen is a freelance writer and editor with more than 20 years of experience. She honed her skills within the publishing and advertising industries and non-profit sector. She served as an editor for a trade magazine and recruiter for editorial and print production staffing. She received her bachelor's degree in marketing from State University of New York - Empire State College.

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