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Background information
The Red Sea Environmental Centre (RSEC) is a collaboration of mare-mundi.eu (NGO registered in Austria) and the individual enterprise Christian von Mach (registered in Germany). RSEC promotes coral reef research, education and conservation at the Red Sea. The RSEC runs a fieldstation for marine science and marine conservation at the southeast coast of the Sinai in Dahab. Since February 2007 the RSEC has been cooperating successfully with Sinai Divers Backpackers in Dahab, as well as with the international Reef Check organisation (German and Egyptian coordinators). Our work is based on voluntary efforts to a high degree.

 

Masbat Bay

 

Scientific Research
Research on the ecology of coral reefs and other local ecosystems is a prerequisite to ensuring their conservation. The RSEC research programme brings together scientists and students to contribute to the protection of biodiversity through biological inventory work, and to answer questions of importance to local conservation and environmental protection.
The RSEC offers at its field stations the required infrastructure, scientific and logistic support and consultancy for Bachelor/Master students, PhD students, Universities and established scientists. The RSEC itself plans and conducts scientific and nature conservation projects and volunteers are welcome to do work on these projects under supervision, thereby participating in the protection of the coral reefs and learning about reef biology. Scientific interests of RSEC are:

  • Physical, chemical and biological oceanography of the Gulf of Aqaba and of the Red Sea (there is still backlog demand and development to be done for the RSEC)
  • Corals and coral reefs
  • Ecology and community life of cartilaginous fishes, especially sharks
  • Ecology and behavior of reef fish
  • Invertebrates of the reef
  • Marine botany, phycology (seaweed and algae in front of the door and in the neighboring lagoon)
  • Ecology of any marine biological and terrestrial subject
  • Ornithology (not much preparatory work has been done yet, but the area is well suited as a migratory zone for birds
  • Herpetology (according to the region it is limited to reptiles, preliminary work has been done and a list of species for the Sinai does exist and snakes, lizards, geckos are not rare)
  • Paleontology, fossil reefs and its inhabitants (in the near of the institute are wonderful fossil reefs which are located 10 m above sea level)
  • Geoscience (geology, mineralogy geomorphology, geography, sedimentology, etc.) Ethnology and history (Investigation and description of the Bedouin inhabitants, their history and way of life)
  • Applied nature conservation, sustainable development of the region, tourism, sociological and economical aspects
 

Dateneingabe DRM

Dictyota canaliculata

Scypha ciliata

 
 

Environmental Activities and Education
The RSEC directly assists local environmental conservation through cooperative activities with other local organisations and the National Parks of Egypt. Voluntary activities, such as underwater- and beach clean-ups and Crown-of-Thorns collections, provide a forum for residents and guests in Dahab to help protect the natural environment. Other operations include coral reef monitoring and supporting local environmental initiatives. RSEC has gradually intensified its efforts with stress on local environmental problems, particularly the current state of the fringing coral reefs of the Dahab coastal zone, where progressive deterioration of reef health has become more and more obvious. Thus, a concept for a Coral Reef Sustainability Program was created by RSEC in 2005. Main ingredients of the program are census surveys for estimating actual scale of recreational activities, comprehensive reef monitoring surveys (extended Reef Check protocol, developed by RSEC in 2006 in cooperation with Reef Check Europe), and work towards integrated reef site management plan(s). In addition, progressive and rapid deterioration of the coastal environment, in particular the fringing coral reefs with their vulnerable reef tables and adjacent habitats (sand flats and seagrass beds) are considered an issue of high priority, along with the rapid decrease of fish and shellfish abundances which are important for the ecological balance of the reef area.

Courses
RSEC offers reef biological courses (including Reef Check courses) which are incorporated as a part of the dive centre's course program. The Reef Check EcoDiver course enables participants to join survey programme (for actual reef protection) is an initiative of public utility and for public awareness raising in the Dahab and El Quseir area. The Reef Check EcoDiver Trainer addresses Dive Instructors or Dive Master to become Reef Check EcoDiver Trainer to conduct their own EcoDiver courses. RSECs’ reef biological courses range 1h to 2 weeks and are for everybody independent of their age and of previous knowledge in coral reef. All our courses can be combined with diving and snorkelling activities. Beginners as well as advanced divers have the chance to attend an adequate course, held at our partner dive centre.

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Masbat Bay

ICUD

Dateneingabe DRM

DRM

 
 

Voluntary work

Since 2005 RSEC has regularly had volunteers engaged in environmental activities and projects and various other tasks. The RSEC offers the chance to gain work experience, especially in a reef biological context, through volunteer work to young (e.g. advanced undergraduate students) but also to others interested. The volunteering can be organised for up to several months and main attention on the work is based on environmental friendly activities like beach and underwater clean-up´s. Volunteers participate in different Reef Check activities (Dahab Reef Monitoring), nature conservation projects as well as in assistance with reef biological courses and excursions carried out by the RSEC. Grand projects like the “Dahab Reef Monitoring” are financed by the volunteers and the support of Sinai Divers (e.g. reduced prices for work dives, providing of facilities). In addition, every volunteer may conduct its individual scientific study. The working plan for the volunteers will be arranged in accordance with the permanent staff and will be adapted to the specific skills and knowledge of each person. The scientific projects, as well as the activities concerning reef protection are accomplished in cooperation with the headquarters of the national park (Nature Conservation Sector) of the Egyptian conservation office (EEAA).



 

Masbat Bay

Clean Ups

 
 

Partner Universities
RSEC intends to establish closer relationships to Egyptian academic institutions (e.g. universities) to enhance collaboration within science and environmental protection and also with European universities and universities from over-seas. In these partnerships the RSEC can provide logistic help with courses and field studies. Furthermore it can bring in its know-how, experience and knowledge about the habitats in the area and can provide the infrastructure for courses and scientific studies. The important goals of the RSEC are excellent scientific work, implementation of new knowledge in nature conservation efforts, sustainable development and comprehensive education. This should be achieved in cooperation between the RSEC and the university partnerships.
Supervisors and students can benefit from the cooperation with the RSEC. Supervisors can transfer field studies to Dahab and the RSEC provides the infrastructure and legal framework requirements (e.g. for collection and work permits, authorization of research projects). All research issues at the RSEC are approved by the EEAA. Students profit in the way that they can perform diploma, master and PhD studies as well as student research projects at the RSEC.

 

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