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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.

 

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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Winteracademy I -  13. February 2016 – 23. March 2016 - report 2

This week we continued with the lectures on reef topics and started with our own projects. Everybody had to figure out an interesting relationship, behaviour, species or interaction to survey for the following weeks. After a couple of pilot project dives and hundreds of questions Nina had to answer, each of us found an interesting and appropiate topic for a project: Maxi and Rebecca are doing Reef Checks of indicator fish as a project, Veronika and Julien observe the cleaning stations of the Blue streak cleaner wrasse, Alejandro monitors parrot fish and Christoph and Anna observe different behaviours of Anemone fish.

Saturday and Sunday three more students joined our group: Phillip and David from the Trier University and Rosan from Utrecht University. Phillip nearly finished his OWD already and is attending the Dahab Reef Monitoring Project, David will make research for his Bachelor thesis about the current growth of Algae on the reef and Rosan will observe the corallivorous snail Drupella for her Bachelor thesis.
We dived at different diving spots, like Moray Garden and Eel Garden, where some of us saw the huge Napoleon wrasse.

Due to the fact that our projects keep us pretty busy, and we have spent more than two weeks in Dahab already, the holiday feeling has gone and we got more routine in our scientific life here.

by Anna and Rebecca

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Winter Academy I - EcoTrip to Nabq Protectorate

It was Thursday of our second week in Dahab and a long an excited field trip was waiting for us.  We woke up with the earlier raising sun of Dahab to make the most of our day in NABQ, a 600 square kilometers Protected Area in the Sinai Peninsula. With big expectations from the presentation we received the day before we packed our snorkeling gear and started to travel to the south.

Our two friendly Bedouin guides drove us to our first stop of the one hour road trip, where a small green spot in the desert was standing in front of us. A prominent Acacia tree, surrounded by other desert plants, hosts more biodiversity than we were expecting. Green spiders, black beetles, dragonflies and butterflies were among the invertebrates that we were able to spot; while the tracks gave us some clues of foxes, lizards and rodents living in the area. This well adapted desert plants with thick leaves, deep roots and lot of thorns; are source of medicine for the Bedouins, who throughout the generations have been keeping an invaluable knowledge of how to use the few resources that the dessert has to offer.

After exploring the area, we head back to our main destiny, the mangrove area. A cozy hut and warm Bedouin tea welcomed us, while we stand in front of a beautiful marine landscape. The green mangroves, white sand and turquoise waters made us felt in the Caribbean Sea.

The white mangroves of NABQ are the northern mangrove specie in the Indian Ocean system. The mangroves are closely connected to the coral reefs and its existence is essential for the reef. Mangroves are nursery spots for many fish species of the reef, resting place for migratory birds, home of many marine invertebrates and great water filters.

To take a closer look at this fabulous environment, we took our snorkeling gear and went into the water.  As soon as we started we were able to spot the Cassiopeia, better known as the upside down jellyfish. These magnificent organisms lay upside down because they contain zooxanthellae which perform the same function as they perform in the corals, obtain energy for the organism by photosynthesis. Regrettably, it seems like winter is not the best time for the fish juveniles and we were able to spot just a few species.

As soon as we went out of the water, a delicious Bedouin lunch was waiting for us. After charging energies, our adventure continued. We took a walk to the Maria Schröder, a ship wreck that crashed into the reef 60 years ago. Along the way, the low tide discovered many shy and elusive fiddler crabs, which hide in the sandy holes as soon as they noticed our presence; while their relatives, the hermit crabs, stay unnoticed in their shells.

The time pass quick and it was time to head back home. In our way back we stopped in the Arak Sand Dunes, 8 to 10 meters sand dunes hold by the extensive and thick roots of the Arak trees; where we also spotted some lizards and had the opportunity to see the desert melons. The desert melon is cucurbitaceous plant well adapted to the arid environment. Its fruits are used by de Bedouins for medicinal purposes and when it dried the seeds inside and the thick pericarp are ideal to transform the melon into a melodious percussion instrument. The trip wouldn’t be over without a final stop at the village, where we watch and spend some time with a couple of camels with a recently born and sweet baby camel.

The trip was a nice experience of knowledge and also a good time to relax. It was interesting to be in another marine environment. We learned some of the invaluable knowledge that Bedouin have about the resources that the desert has to offer and we were astonished by the unexpected biodiversity that a dry environment could host.  Back to Dahab, we can’t avoid thinking on our next experiences and the amazing things that we still have to discover in the upcoming weeks.

 

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Winter Academy I – February 19th 2016 – March 23rd 2016, report 1 by Veronika
Six students from the Hochschule Anhalt in Germany signed up for a quite special elective module: Applied Reef Ecology, which takes place in Dahab, South Sinai. During the next five weeks we will learn all about the ecological interactions of the fish and coral fauna in the Red Sea. Our instructor, Nina, will help us to learn various indicator species and to get a bigger picture of the significance of coral reefs to the ecosystem of the Red Sea.

We arrived in Sharm el Sheikh on Saturday night and after a few stops at military check-points we safely got to our accommodation, the RSEC guest house in Dahab. One student from Bolivia had already arrived two days ago and in the morning we all went to the dive center together for first instructions.  As some of us did not have any experience in diving before, the next four days they had to do their Open Water Diver and buoyancy practice dives. After some frustrating first tries with buoyancy and equalizing problems, everyone was able to successfully complete the course. The other students used the time to get to know the fauna of the Red Sea by snorkeling or by fun dives. We already saw many different fish and were able to learn some hand signals for lionfish, stonefish, sea moth and other species. A few lucky students already saw a sea turtle in the first days.

At the end of the first week we did our first trip outside of Dahab, to a small Bedouin village called Ras Abu Galum. As there are no roads from the Blue Hole to Abu Galum, we ‘drove’ by camels – a very interesting experience. In Abu Galum we got a really good lunch from the Bedouins and were snorkeling in the beautiful coral reefs there. As it was very windy, the current was strong and the next day we all had sore muscles from the camels and the swimming.

 

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Summer academy II week 1
At the very first beginning maybe a short introduction to ourselfes. My name is Malte, I am studying watermanagement and I’m here with Deborah, a biology student. We are both part of the second summer academy from the 10 of October to the 14 of November.  The days passed quickly and the first week is already finished. We spent the first days with literature research about algae and there were presentations given by Nina about corals in general as well. As soon as we had an overview of the different algae and coral types, we started practising our identification skills by trying to identify training slides. On Monday the 19 of October we spent a day on the boat and we have had two beautifull and interesting dives. During our first dive we were very lucky because an eagleray passed by slowly until he got annoyed by a cleaner fish.
 We almost finished  todays planning and it seems that we will improve our algae manual and our underwater slates as well. When our first survey dive was finished yesterday we decided to change a few things to make the documentation underwater as easy as possible. We are going to do a survey dive today and we  are really looking forward to see how it works out. We will keep you up to date how the project is running.

Wishing you all the best from Dahab,
Malte and Deborah

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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

 

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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

 

 

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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

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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

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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

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Summer Academy I - Weekly report 3

The past days Alex has been working on his bachelor thesis, his aim of the project is to gauge whether the habitat complexity of the coral reef has an effect on the reef fish biodiversity, and whether it is a positive or negative effect. He is doing this by using the English et al (1997) “Line Intercept Transect” method, which gives a percentage cover value for several lifeform categories over a 50m transect line (data is gathered by filming with and underwater camera). Fish biodiversity data is gathered by using a fish belt method. Soooo this week:

Monday was an office day. Alex worked on his thesis and Nils assisted him with processing the data gathered from Coral Garden the previous week. After that they went snorkelling to look for juvenile wrasses in Bannerfish Bay. Ida was reading articles and working on a post Nabq visit power point presentation.

Tuesday we conducted two transects in Moray Garden to increase the reliability and accuracy of the data gathered. A measure tape is put out and all the fish on 2.5 meters on each side and 5 meters above is monitored. After that, the measure tape is recorded with an underwater camera, from one end to the other for later analysis of the Lifeform categories observed. The following two days where days off where Nils and Alex analysed data gathered for Alex’s thesis (as well as Alex getting some time to go windsurfing…), they also managed to get on a dive boat with the Sinai Divers Backpackers to dive the forest of Gorgonian corals at “El Shugurat” and the happy reef “Shaab Said”

Friday we conducted two more transects, again at Coral Garden. Alex put out the measuring tape, Ida righted it, and Nils hung some weights from the tape measure to ensure it stays in the same place during the filming (in case of a current etc.).
Saturday and Sunday we did a further two transects at Moray Garden to increase the reliability and accuracy of the data gathered. Alex found some more time between analysing his transects to go windsurfing with the great guys at Dahab Stars.
Next to the Summer Academy Aylin conducted a biocourse with Nina from Austria. She just did her Open Water Diver with Sinai Divers Backpackers and was now very enthusiastic to learn more about coral reefs and their inhabitants.
After presentations about the taxonomy and different growth forms of corals as well as the taxonomy of the Red Sea fish species, Nina was well prepared to explore the dive sites of Coral Garden and Moray Garden. Furthermore, she and Aylin had a few nice encounters underwater with a juvenile Black Snapper, an Eagle Ray and a small school of Reef Squids.

After the successful first two days, Nina observed different types of fish behaviour underwater such as cleaning behaviour of different wrasse species, the aggressive behaviour of the Red Sea Anemonefish and the Threespot Dascyllus as well as the mating behaviour of the Klunzinger’s wrasse. At the dive site Lighthouse she was also very lucky to see the egg deposition and fertilization by two Pale Damselfish.
Unfortunately, time is passing quickly and so the biocourse came to its end with the topics invertebrates and seagrass meadows. In Abu Talha Nina had a nice encounter with an octopus and saw a hawksbill turtle from the distance. But on top of all, she was very lucky to see a Jayakar’s seahorse in the seegrass on the way from Bannerfish Bay to Mashraba. Moreover, the group also found a giant hawksbill turtle at the Roman’s Rock which went up just next to them and a Leopard stingray was gliding over the bottom on their way back to Bannerfish Bay.

Nina had lots of fun during her time in Dahab and these nice encounters also made the dives for her unforgettable.

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Summer Academy I - Weekly report 2
Monday we had two dives, the first at Ricks Reef, after that we ate at the nearby restaurant, the food was amazing. The next dive was at Coral Garden where we saw a beautiful octopus changing its colour.

Wednesday in the morning we went to Bannerfish Bay, where we focused on fish living in seagrass meadows, we saw a green turtle eating from the sea grass. Between the dives we had a presentation about Nabq, a protected area with a mangrove stand that we will visit the next day.  In the night we did a night dive. We saw a sleeping turtle and a Spanish dancer, lots of cuttlefish, a lobster, and a sleeping Napoleon wrasse.
Thursday we went to Nabq by car, we were driving through desert and past a Bedouin village between the mountains. We had a break where we walked around in the desert looking at a few plants and the Acacia tree. The plants have long deep going roots and many have a waxy layer on their leaves to prevent water loss. In Nabq we snorkelled around in the mangrove looking at juvenile fishes and upside-down jellyfish. The mangrove is a nursery area for many fish and it was funny to see all the juvenile hiding between the mangrove roots. The upside-down jellyfish have different colours because they live in symbiosis with algae that produces sugar to the jellyfish through photosynthesis.  After an hour’s snorkelling we had Bedouin dinner, potatoes and vegetables cooked in tomato sauce, rice and chicken. Nils presented what he had found out about toxic animals living in reefs, and showed relevant photos from a book.

Friday started with Ida’s presentation about the conservation of turtles, and then we had a presentation about florescent marine organisms. We went night diving with a special yellow filter put in front of the dive mask and a blue light, then we could see the fluorescence.  It was spectacular!

Sunday was office day.  We are working on a summary of our findings. Ida is working on adaptations to life in desert environments that she will present next week. Nils is working on the summary for last week, and Alex and Nils are continuing their work on analysing videos of coral reef life forms. 

Next week we will continue the workshop, have some presentations with our new volunteer Nina, and Thursday we might go on another boat trip.

 

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Summer Academy I - Weekly report 1

The first week of the summer academy is already over. So far we have done around 9 dives and have seen a lot. We saw for example a remora swimming with a huge porcupinefish which was about 1 meter long! Also we have seen lots of different butterflyfish, angelfish, puffers, pipefish, squids, a small turtle at blue hole, which is one of my favourite dive sites, parrotfish and so on. 

I have been enjoying the dive sites we have been so far: blue hole, mashraba, bannerfishbay, lighthouse, ricks reef, moray garden.
So far I have learned a lot about the different species of fish living in the red sea and also about the different corals.

We have also been on a Bedouin dinner in the Mountains which was really nice. We drove there by car, had a Bedouin cooking dinner for us and learned a little bit about the Bedouin culture. After the dinner the Bedouin showed us a beautiful oasis.
I am impressed by the underwater world in the red sea and looking forward to the next 4 weeks of diving learning and having fun with the other volunteers.

 

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

 

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Coral Project Dahab 2014-II - Project report

We arrived in Dahab and loved it! The dive centre is right in the centre of town next to lots of restaurants with lovely views of the sea. The weather is gorgeous! Possibly too hot to start with and now comfortably warm and sunny. Everyone is so friendly and helpful in Dahab generally, but especially at Sinai Divers and at RSEC.

We started the Dahab coral project with training about everything we can encounter during a survey, for example: coral- damage, diseases, bleaching. Learning the substrates and coral types was essential because during the surveys you have to know which coral is victim of a disease or damage. There was a lot to learn about identifying corals and how they are affected by state of health and so the test was difficult. This test ensures the data we collect is scientifically valid. Passing the test meant we were ready to start the calibration dives. This is a practice survey to perfect our positioning, writing on slates, and to check we would collect the same data.

Now we were ready for the real surveys! Our first survey took place in Moray garden- a dive site just outside Dahab. Doing the first survey was a lot of fun. We discovered that it is hard to conserve air whilst doing a survey because you are concentrating so much on collecting the data. During the surveys we have two teams. Team 1: damage & predation and team 2: bleaching and diseases. For the bleaching and disease team a camera is essential. Taking pictures of the diseases ensures we can determine the disease. During the surveys another person records the substrate with a video camera, so we can analyze the footage in the office later in the day. It was a lot of fun to play with toy torpedoes during the safety stop. The boat trip was even more fun, but unfortunately the current was too strong to carry out the survey work, so we did two leisure dives instead. The lunch on the boat was delicious and the view of the mountains was beautiful.

Each of the snorkeling transects are very shallow -less than 1 m deep. This means the wave action makes it difficult to hold the camera steady enough to record a film, so unlike the divers we don’t record footage of the substrate we write it on a slate. In addition to recording substrate for each transect survey Nadja’s master thesis requires her to record coral damage such as breakage and abrasion. When circumstances allow, we also record disease, predation and bleaching of the corals during a survey, but this isn’t always possible.

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Drupella cornus - a midget kills Coral Reefs

https://www.sciencestarter.de/die-schnecke-im-riff/blog/

Climate changes and overfishing lead to a rapid spread of the coral-eating sea snail Drupella cornus in the Red Sea. However, not all coral species are equally affected. The stony corals of the genus Acropora seem to be preferentially eaten. The reason for these observations leads to many questions: Why is the stony coral preferred? What makes the difference to other genera? What can be done to protect the corals?
In order to start a research in this topic, Janina Goetz begun a crowdfunding project at sciencestarter.de. Now she needs our support:  If she gathers a sum of 7500 € until the early October she can start her project in cooperation with the RSEC. The money is needed to fund her research in Dahab.

You can support Janina on www.sciencestarter.de/die-schnecke-im-riff and / or you can share the link with your friends. Please take a minute and keep a look at that project.

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Dahab Reef Monitoring 2014-II - Project 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

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The Oris Red Scholarship blogspot of Justine and Tim is online:

http://orisredscholarship.blogspot.ch

 

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Summer academy 26.6 - 31.7.2014 Report 2
 
As we got more and more advanced in fish and coral identification as well as in our diving skills (especially buoyancy perfection), we started to work more scientific. We got taught how to do under water transect lines to determine the occurrence and abundance of fish, corals and invertebrates as well as the occurrence of coral damage, bleaching and diseases. Here for we used a measuring tape of 10 meters which we attached on the bottom floor of the reef. Everybody in the group had a different task while swimming slowly after each other along the transect: Mareike was identifying and counting the fish species 2.5 m left and right and up to 5 meters above the transect line. Then Mathias swam along the line and counted and determined the invertebrates. Lisann was focusing on the coral damages, diseases and breakage. In the end Alexandre was filming the transect while swimming in a head down position, really slowly close to the bottom along the line. Meanwhile Amanda was observing something else…

For the last week of our stay in Dahab, everybody is planning an own small project about a topic he/she is interested in and which is feasible within a week. Amanda for example is interested in the role of cleaner wrasses in a reef. What kind of clients do they have? How long do the clients stay? And do the cleaner wrasses have any preference? So she is hovering near a “cleaner station” for a while observing and identifying the fish. Lisanns topic will be the occurrence of coral diseases at a dive sites with a small coral garden with medium damage (Bannerfish Bay), a dive site which still healthy (Abu Helal) and a dive site which is already heavily damaged and polluted (Moray Garden). Here for she will use the data from the survey the group is collecting. Mareike and Mathias chose the topic “artificial reefs” as they recognized numerous artificial objects in the Masbat Bay. They plan to collect data about the locations and materials of the objects, the fish habitants and visitors. Furthermore they plan to sink a own artificial reef made of wood an palm leafs as the traditional fisherman of Caribbean islands used to build for attracting fish. Unfortunately there is no time to get permission for dumping something in the bay (if the locals who dump car wheels bother about that??). Anyway, if this sounds like heaps of work for you we can tell you that we still have enough time to enjoy this country and its underwater and over water world! So we did an adventures jeep tour into the desert to visit the White and Colored Canyon. And we went with the boat Gazalah VI to the dive sites at Gabr-el-Bint in the south which has a stunning diversity of corals and fish and a garden of huge gorgonian corals. Now it’s just one more week to go… and still a lot of work to do.

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Summer academy 26.6 - 31.7.2014 Report 1

We are a group of 4 people who attend the Summer Academy 2014. Mareike, Mathias and Lisann from Germany and Amanda from Brazil. First, all of us had different dive experiences and levels. Amanda never dived in the ocean before and Mathias was already a Dive Master. So, the first days Amanda, Mareike and Lisann had to catch up with Mathias and undergo an Advanced Open Water Certification. Diving in salty water and deep depths (30 m), holding neutral buoyancy, long dives every day and the hot weather were really hard for us in the beginning. But finally we all got our Advanced Open Water PADI and the Summer Academy Dives started.

We felt more and more relaxed, comfortable, and self-confident and could actually enjoy the wonderful scenery: huge coral gardens, colorful fish, funny looking invertebrates, etc. The view on the surface is also really breathtaking: huge red/brownish mountains in the Sinai desert contrasting with the blue/greenish water of the Red Sea and starry nights!
In the mornings, we have presentations given by Aylin about Coral reefs (definition, identification and diseases), Fish (families, characteristics and behavior) and Invertebrates (Gastropoda, Bivalvia, Crustacea, Cephalopoda, Echinodermata). Diving follows after the presentations where we can see for real what we just learned in the wooden teaching room of RSEC.

We learned hand signals for different fish families to communicate under water. Aylin also did some quizzing underwater which helped a lot to identify the species. Besides using hand signals and slates to write down questions or sightings, we make a lot of pictures which can be easily analyzed back in the RSEC room.

In our free time, we cook together at our new home (RSEC house) or at one of the lovely furnished restaurants, go for a walk, watch a movie or documentary, celebrate the Football World Cup and have fun! (Germany is the world champion 2014, year).

Since the second week we also welcome a new volunteer in our group: Alexandre from France.

More people more fun, so let's see what the next weeks have to offer… Stay tuned!

Summer Academy

 

Summer Academy 2014

Summer Academy 2014

Summer Academy 2014

Summer Academy 2014

Summer Academy 2014

 
  The two scholars for Oris Red scholarship 2014 are announced. All informations are available here.   Oris
 
 

5 scholarships per year are available from our partner ORIS for the upcoming Dahab Reef Monitoring projects.

Oris RED Scholarship

Oris Red Scholarship includes:

  1. 5 weeks package for the RSEC conservation project (incl. accommodation, 40 project dives, training, airport shuttles and 1 boat trip)
  2. Dive equipment rental for 5 weeks
  3. Your own personal Oris dive suit
  4. Your own personal Oris Aquis Red Limited Edition watch

Oris Red scholarship applicants should have the following profile:

  1. Be a student (preferably of Marine Science or a related field, but not obligatory)
  2. Be a diver (optional the applicant could learn to dive prior to the project)
  3. Be highly motivated
  4. Good writing skills in English
  5. Enjoy blogging on social media

Oris Red Scholars commit themselves to:

  1. Fully support RSEC’s conservation project
  2. Regularly blog about the scholarship, research progress, travel and diving experiences in written form and with media to the Oris online community and RSEC’s discussion board
  3. Agree to the global use of all media output (pictures, video, etc.) by Oris and RSEC

Deadlines for application: 25.6.2014 / 1.1.2015

Next projects: Dahab Reef Monitoring 7.8.-11.9.2014 / 26.2.-2.4.2015

All participants will get a full training in scientific survey methods, the coral reef and connected habitats, and indicator species. We will provide you with a certification upon request which may be accepted by your University (students own responsibility to enquire if eligible for credit by University).

For application please send a motivation letter with a short CV and some expressive pictures to oris@redsea-ec.org. For more information about the scholarship or the project you can call +49-611-97144272

 

 

 

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Coral Project Dahab 2014-I
Weekly report no. 1

Our small group with Nina as our adviser, Silal and Aylin as volunteers felt comfortable in Dahab right after a few days. On Friday we started with a presentation about coral reefs and different precautions of the eastern Sinai Peninsula. Due to the political situation we had to start the project with just three people and modified the primary course of the Coral Project. We film the substrate in different depth and afterwards we analyse the videos by arranging the substrate into life form categories. Additional, Aylin does a fish census in every transect to use these data for her master's thesis. The first four dives we had were to orientate, for learning of the different coral growth forms and to exercise the procedure underwater. One dive in Mashraba we utilized to free the corals of empty rice bags, which were washed into the Masbat bay a few weeks ago due to a siltation flood. Filming, fish census and the teamwork worked very well, so we could start very fast with the official survey dives. Nina did a presentation about growth forms of corals and coral diseases to observe them in our dives. In the first week we already did a few transects in Masbat bay and outside in Abu Helal and Islands and also analysed the first videos. The silt flood which took place in Masbat bay because of heavy rain in the desert caused a siltation in a big area of the bay. The covering of the corals results in bad photosynthesis efficiency and we are interested in how the coral will manage this high stress factor. Therefore, we had transects in this area, where we measured the silt-height and also took the fish census, thus it was very low. Unfortunately this event recurred in the first week, and now the transects in Mashraba have to wait for lighter days to be observed.

 

 

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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. 

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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

 

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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

 

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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


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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

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Masbat Conservation Project 2013-II, weekly report 5

In our last week we made the final survey dives at Lighthouse. In addition, we even had time for some fun dives. We also made a clean-up dive, in which we collected waste underwater. Natascha gave us a presentation of her bachelor work about the behavior of cleaner wrasses. We then devoted a dive to the study of the cleaner wrasses. We even saw a turtle and a crocodile fish! While snorkeling in the lunch break we discovered Froggy, the long-lost yellow frogfish. The last days of the project we spent with the evaluation of the obtained data and pictures and writing the final report. With this, five exciting and educational weeks of the wonderful Masbat Bay Conservation project passed by. We will remember this time with very nice memories and thank Nina Milton and the team of Sinai Divers for their support and good humor.

 

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Masbat Conservation Project 2013-II, weekly report 4

In the fourth week of the Masbat Bay Conservation project we conducted more survey dives in Mashraba and Bannerfish bay. Nina is guiding the dives in such a way, that there is always enough time to take picture underwater. The dives are great fun! The highlight of this week was our trip to Nabq, a protected area south of Dahab with many endemic plants: Acacia, legumes, succulent plants, mangroves, etc. We could even snorkel between the mangroves and admired the many juvenile fish and upside-down jellyfish. Moreover, we observed herons and osprey. Looking at the ship wreck of Maria Schroeder we got a delicious Bedouin lunch. The next day we made our first fluorescence night dive. Equipped with special lights and filters in front of the mask we discovered the bizarre life of the fluorescent creatures underwater. With this particular event an exciting week came to an end.

 

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Masbat Conservation Project 2013-II - weekly report 2

The intensive training above and underwater showed our first results. We successfully passed the fish test, learning has paid off. As a reward, we drove to a Bedouin dinner in the desert where we enjoyed delicious food and sweet tea. On the next day we did our first calibration dive. We tried to use all our previously acquired knowledge about the fish indicators and the types of substrate during the dive. It was not as easy as we had imagined it to be. We still needed some more practice before we could start with the survey dives. But first we took a fun dive at the Blue Hole where we did not have to count fish or measure substrate. On the following day we also passed the substrate test. Now we were ready for our survey dives! They ran successfully thanks to the training and Nina´s patient explanations. On the first survey dive we also discovered the rare ornate pipefish (Halicampus macrorhynchus). In addition, we were accompanied by another turtle. On the last day of this week we again had time for a fun dive, in which we explored the dive site "Islands". The time flies by so fast here, because it's great fun to dive and collect data for such a great project.

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All pictures by Jana Slamaj.

 

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Masbat Conservation Project 2013-II - weekly report 1

Our introduction to the project was presented by Nina Milton in the RSEC field station; it informed us about all aspects of the Masbat Bay Conservation Program. We then started training to identify the indicator fish species we need to learn to quantify fish numbers in the bay. We learnt existing and added new underwater hand signals, so that we can effectively communicate whilst diving and double check our fish identification skills. We watched another presentation identifying corals; again we need to learn these to survey and assess the underwater geography of the bay. Next we went out for the day by boat to Ras Abu Galum. We made three fun dives on the pristine dive sites located north of Dahab. We watched the final presentation about the other substrates we will find in the bay, the different sorts of algae, and again learnt hand signals to check our assessments whilst underwater. We made more training dives to see how much we have learnt and practice identifying the fish and substrates, and also made some relaxing fun dives in the bay to enjoy the area and meet the turtle.

 

 

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All pictures by Jana Slamaj.

 
 

Reef Check Germany Award for Reef Conservation - Call for applications

Reef Check Germany announces its Reef Check Germany Award for Reef Conservation 2014(Reef Check Förderpreis für Riffschutz 2014), which is awarded to students whose theses contribute to the preservation of coral reefs.
The theses (BSc., MSc., Diplom or Doctorate/PhD) should be completed at a German university in 2013. Students from any branch of natural science are encouraged to apply by 01. December 2013.
The award is endowed with EUR 500.
In addition, the winner will receive the following from our sponsors:

Details of the announcement
Application form

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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.

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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.

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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 … :-)

 

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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.

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Coral Project Dahab 2013-II, 4. weekly report:

In the 4th week we were able to complete our surveys at the Lighthouse and Mashraba. High current made impossible to film the lower depths. Furthermore, we did survey dives in the Coral Garden, Garden Muray and Abu Helal. At Light House we saw a turtle in the early morning hours at breakfast of soft corals. The week we also put up a really beautiful boat trip in the south of Dahab, where we enjoyed in addition to 2 great dives and the cozy atmosphere on deck. Also we made an impressive trip to the Blue Hole and The Bells, where we enjoyed the huge drop-off into the deep blue and had fun to "Jump" at the Bells.

Particularly impressive were the night dives where the dive sites on the reef showed a completely different picture: A sleeping turtle, feather stars and as a team lionfish and moray eels in the hunt. But not only with ordinary light we could watch the action at night, also an extraordinarily beautiful fluorescent dive gave us unforgettable memories, whether the greenish glowing bright corals or reddish fish. We will analyze the rest of the videos on Saturday and hope to have first results of the evaluation. Unfortunately, the project is already coming to an end and we gradually must say goodbye from the team with whom we spent a wonderful time the last weeks.

 

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Charter for the Mediterranean Sea, Pula, May 2013

Our sea – our concern
Charter for the Mediterranean Sea, signed on 23 May 2013 in Pula by 20 marine scientists 

Based on our decades-long experience as marine scientists in the Mediterranean Sea, the signatories of this Charter conclude that the ecological problems of the Mediterranean – termed mare nostrum (our sea) more than 2000 years ago – are more acute than ever. We confirm that, despite the publication of countless scientific studies and the signing of many international agreements, most of the necessary conservation measures have been insufficiently implemented or largely ignored. 
The list of well-known threats such as crude oil, heavy metals, pesticides, eutrophication, overfishing and habitat destruction has been enlarged by a series of newly recognized problems including plastic litter, noise, ocean acidification, the introduction of alien species and climate change. All of these act simultaneously to compound the damage, with unpredictable overall effects. These range from threats to individual species to the collapse of entire habitats.
This problem has been more than amply documented; there is no need for new studies or costly conferences to develop new strategies, re-define existing problems or re-hash well-known solutions. The time has come to implement the existing agreements.
Despite the negative trends and pervasive ecological deterioration, the current status of many Mediterranean regions would enable protective measures to have immediate positive, meaningful effects. From the coastline to the open sea and down to the greatest depths, every implementation of existing obligations would improve ecosystem health and improve the quality of life and economic prosperity in all range states.

The undersigned scientists call on the EU and all responsible national and international agencies and institutions to comply with and implement without delay the existing strategies and action plans for the Mediterranean.
Currently, only a few percent of the Mediterranean’s surface area have received protection status. Beyond rigorously adhering to agreed conservation measures, we call for rapidly establishing a network of small-scale, more easily implementable protected areas. As most marine species have a high dispersion potential, the positive effect of this approach would go beyond the protected areas’ borders. Experience worldwide shows that both the fishing industry and tourism profit from such measures.
A responsible future development of tourism cannot be achieved at the expense of the remaining natural habitats. The sustainable economic success and ecological integrity of the Mediterranean range states is at stake.
The sea is heavily affected by plastic wastes and their decomposition into toxic microplastics, a process which affects the entire marine food web. This must be countered by reducing plastic wastes, by technological innovation, stepped-up recycling and a rapid switch to more easily degradable materials.
The research, public relations and education sectors must redirect their efforts at raising public awareness and promoting individual responsibility. We call on all citizens to fully exercise their personal responsibility and to actively engage these issues in their sphere of influence.
The participating marine scientists sign this charter in the conviction that the above goals can be realistically achieved and will contribute significantly to protecting the Mediterranean habitats and their biodiversity. This would clearly benefit the wellbeing of all and enable more harmonious multiple uses of our unique Mediterranean ecosystem.

Charta Pula 2013

 

Dipl. Biol. Bastian Brenzinger 
BSc. Johannes Salvenmoser
Dr. Stefphan Koblmüller
Doz. Dr. Michael Stachowitsch
Dr. Daniel Abed-Navandi
Dr. Reinhard Kikinger



  Stud. Alexander Heidenbauer
Prof. Vladimir Miljević
Mag. Clemens Stecher
Dipl. Biol. Kerstin Blassnig
Dr. Horst Moosleitner
Univ. Prof. Dr. Robert Patzner
Dr. Peter Dworschak
Dr. Hubert Blatterer
MMag. Ivo Gallmetzer
Stud. Maximilian Wagner
  Univ. Prof. Dr. Christian Sturmbauer
Dr. Armin Svoboda
Stud. Ruth Fraissler
Mag. Alexandra Haselmair
Dipl. Biol. Tessa Böttcher
MSc. Janina Goetz

Dr. Carsten Müller
Dr. Robert Hofrichter
Mag. Gerwin Gretschel
 
 

Coral Project Dahab 2013-II, 3. weekly report:

This week we continued surveying Islands, Mashraba and Lighthouse dive sites which all have beautiful coral gardens. A group of us, including some instructors from the dive center, took a trip to Tiran; a dive location just off Sharm-El-Sheikh. All three dives were fantastic, pristine corals, shoals of tuna and trevally, napoleon fish, an eagle ray and a 4m manta ray which topped off the whole trip. Two more volunteers arrived so we have had productive office hours analyzing video footage whilst Nina teaches them substrate identification so next week they can join the surveys. During our days off Patrick completed the PADI advanced open water course and Natalie completed the PADI enriched air specialty.

 

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Coral Project Dahab 2013-II, 2. weekly report:

After perfecting the identification of substrate types and coral disease/predation in the first week, we completed two practice dives along a transect using video equipment and slates. Our knowledge on coral types and disease was assessed in a photo exam in the office as well as a practical assessment underwater. During survey dives, slates are used to collect data on coral disease, predation, breakage and bleaching. Video footage of the 20m transect is then analyzed back at the office and databases are filled out accordingly. Later in the week we conducted surveys at dive sites outside of Dahab which differed in topography and inhabitants from dive sites in the bay. We also took part in a night dive at the dive location ‘Lighthouse’ and saw basket stars, cuttlefish, squid, a sleeping turtle, a baby octopus and various soft corals. On our day off some of us visited the white canyon and coloured canyon in the mountains which was spectacular. All in all a fantastic second week!

 

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Coral Project Dahab 2013-II, 1. weekly report:

This week we have been learning about the different substrate types and coral diseases in preparation for starting the surveys. This has included working in the classroom and also practicing coral species and disease identification underwater. In order to complete the surveys without damaging any of the corals, we have been practicing neutral buoyancy and completing underwater obstacles in the buoyancy park.

Mid-week we carried out a cleanup dive at Mashraba to reduce the amount of trash in the water which is very damaging to the reef ecosystem. The consequences of rubbish on the corals can unfortunately be seen in many of the dive sites around Dahab so this was an important dive for the RSEC volunteers to take part in.

Already in the first week we have seen a lot of interesting fish species; these include ghost pipefish, seahorses, scorpionfish, bluespotted stingrays and various moray eels. Learning so much about the coral reef and how to recognize signs of damage has increased our awareness of coral health and how important it is to protect and preserve these vital ecosystems.

 

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Coral Project Dahab 2013-I, Report 2. Week:

At the beginning of the second week we were all busy studying the different types of substrates and diseases of corals. As a reward we had our first dive outside of the Masbat Bay, at Moray Garden. This is where we practiced our skills that we need to carry out the surveys. On one of the dives we saw a Crown of Thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci), a prime example for predation, since it is able to devour several entire coral colonies in a matter of days. It was a fun day, with tasty lunch, and chilling out on the idyllic beach during the breaks in between dives. The practice surveys were a success, as everyone in the group was motivated.

The week rounded off nicely as we celebrated Tali’s birthday, relaxing in the RSEC house’s garden, and for which the rest of the volunteers baked a lovely chocolate cake.

 

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School Reef Day 2013
A group of 12 children came to the RSEC house in the morning for a presentation, games and breakfast. The presentation was on some general background to the Red Sea, information on the ‘popular’ species (clown fish, parrot fish, lion fish etc.), which species to avoid and also explaining why removing coral and fish species from the reefs is bad for the environment as well as how litter can kill corals. The children already knew a lot about what species lived on the reef and were very enthusiastic, getting involved with the presentation. We then played a game where the children were put into groups and each group given a reef species, they then had to find and match cards describing size, feeding, appearance etc. to their species and the first group to get all the correct cards won. We then took them onto the promenade to go snorkeling over Clown Fish Reef. Enough volunteers were helping so that we could split into groups of two children per RSEC volunteer. This meant that whilst snorkeling we could point out species that we had seen in the presentation and children could ask us what things they were seeing. They seemed to enjoy the snorkeling a lot. After snorkeling we brought the children to Sinai Divers and gave them a brief tour of the RSEC office, the equipment room (and explained how some of the dive gear works) and the compressor room. We then gathered on the roof terrace and briefly explained what RSEC is and what the volunteers do here and why. Then to end we got the children to draw on large pieces of paper what they had learned that day and what they had seen whilst snorkeling.

 

Dahab School

 

Dahab School

Dahab School

Dahab School

Dahab School

 
 

Coral Project Dahab 2013-I, Report 1. Week:
Soon after all the Coral Project I volunteers arrived safely in Dahab, we began with an introductory lecture on Thursday, giving us an insight as to what lies ahead for the next five weeks. In the afternoon we finally got into the water for check dive.
For the next couple of days we dove in the buoyancy park to practice our buoyancy and underwater skills. This is as we need to have perfect buoyancy for when we do our survey dives to make sure we are able without harming the corals and other underwater life.
After having learnt the different coral species, their growth patterns and the different substrate types from the presentation we were able to use our newly acquired knowledge in the field and off we went underwater for indicator practice dives. We then went on a night dive as a treat for all the learning we have been doing. We then attended further presentations about the different threats to the local corals; coral diseases, predation and breakage.
We have also practiced filming along a transect line as we will be using this method when we start collecting data for the surveys.
But of course after having learned so many new things we are all keen to enjoy our free time in beautiful Dahab. From having a delicious BBQ in the RSEC house to a boat trip and yoga and experiencing the night life, it’s safe to say we are all having a super great time!

DRM2013 Team

 

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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

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Earth Day Clean Up 2013

On Earth Day, the 22th of April, we organized a beach clean-up in the area around Canyon and Blue Hole. Together with a group of enthusiasts whom signed up at the Sinai Divers Backpackers dive center we ended up with a group of ten volunteers in total for the beach clean-up. On the way to the Blue Hole we already noticed that there was way less trash lying around than usually.   This was because of really good work from locals carrying out clean-ups around Dahab. For that reason our clean-up only took place around the Blue Hole itself which was still littered with thrash. A total of 7 big thrash bags were collected during this clean-up. All in all it was a nice day with good cooperation and a lot of laughs.

Earth Day 2013

 

Earth Day 2013

Earth Day 2013

 
 

Dahab news 4. -18.04.3013

During the last week the RSEC house became more quiet as the Dahab Reef Monitoring Project was finished and our volunteers Verena, Laura, Wiebke, Julia and Alex left. We had a very nice brunch on their last day and afterwards everybody had to go back to his own projects. Natascha and Jana finished the sampling for Natascha’s Bachelor thesis. Lucien could finish his divemaster successfully and Hanna is still waiting for her broken arm to be healed so she can go diving after all.

Maike and Stephi went to the Future School of Dahab to talk to the head of the school and discuss about the school project. This includes presentations and games to teach the children more about coral reefs and fishes and the necessity of conserving both. We are looking forward to that project and to work with the kids. Last Thursday we got a new student, her name is Charlotte and she is doing a course about reef biology.

  DRM2013-I
 
 

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

 

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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

 

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  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

 

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  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!

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

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DRM

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Masbat Bay Conservation 2013-I - fourth week

The fourth week started with a day off and an office day to process data, which accumulated in the last few days. After another day during which we conducted two survey dives, we had another day off because of bad weather conditions. To catch up with our plan after several non-planned breaks, we did 6 survey- and 2 night dives in the next 3 days. Although this was very tiring, we were rewarded with interesting sightings, for example some octopus and sea horses. Now that all transects of the project were finished, we performed some clean-up dives at the end of the week.

 

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EcoTrip to Nabq Protectorate on 30.01.2013

For a change to the survey dives we made a trip to the Nabq Protected Area. The recently fallen rain greened the wadis (dry riverbeds fallen) in a extend that is unusual for the desert. In addition, we explored the mangrove forests and their biodiversity which are essential for coastal protection. Maria Schröder, a cargo ship that ran aground right by the coast was another highlight of our trip. After a traditional Bedouin lunch, we explored the mangroves to look for the frequent "Upside Down Jellyfishes" and we were successful after a long search. This jellyfish is a bottom dwelling species that aligns its zooxanthellae containing tentacles in the direction of the light. On the way back we visited the adjacent Arak-dune system. These specially adapted trees stabilize themselves by accumulating sand and form an extensive root and branch system.

 

 

 

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Masbat Bay Conservation 2013-I - third week

The third week began with 2 days off, as our supervisor was out of town. Nevertheless, this did not stop us from diving and exploring other great dive sites around Dahab, like the famous Blue Hole and the Canyon. Some volunteers even travelled to Sharm el Sheikh for a wreck dive at the SS Thistlegorm. Later in the week we did another fluorescent night dive and some Survey Dives in the bay in which we even got to face some seahorses. A relaxing end of the third week constituted a boat trip to the dive sites Gabr-El-Bint and El Shugarrat in the far south of Dahab.

 

 

 

  MBC2013-I
 
 

Masbat Bay Conservation 2013-I - second week

At the beginning of the second week of the Masbat Bay Conservation Project, we started with another four survey dives, in one of them we even sighted a turtle. Thunderstorm and heavy rain in the night from Saturday to Sunday caused strong sediment influx in the bay, whereby the visibility became very bad and further survey dives were impossible for the moment. Because of this, we used the following days to extend our visa at El-Tur and to do a trip to the nature reserve “Nabq”, which we planned anyway. To get an impression of the condition of the reefs outside of the bay, we did two fun dives at the “Islands” a breath taking, beautiful reef southward Dahab.

 

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Masbat Bay Conservation 2013-I - first week

In the first week of Masbat Bay Conservation project, we had lectures about the current problems of the bay and about the course of the project. By identification and counting of indicator species (fish and corals) we will evaluate the current state of Masbat Bay. During identification exercises and training dives we learned to recognize species that are relevant for the health of coral reefs. A highlight was the first night dive during which we discovered a variety of sea creatures that cannot be seen during the day. Fluorescent night dives are another important part of our project. Prof. Dr. Horst Grunz provided not only the theoretical background for fluorescence under water, but also accompanied us with his self-designed and self-constructed HighTec lamps. Generally, it was a busy week during which we learned a lot about the biology of coral reefs and their protection.

 

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Christmas Reef Check - 2nd week – 3.-10.1.2013

After we finished the tests and the training-dives we were prepared to collect trustworthy data for the Reef Check, we did some survey-dives. We checked the reefs at Moray Garden, Rick's Reef, Coral Garden and Blue Hole. We recognized again the low number of big fish in this area but also surprisingly healthy corals. The reason for the absence of big fish could be overfishing. We suspect that more divers became interested in corals and the healthiness of reefs so the damages are not as bad as we expected. We are glad that we were part of this project which draws attention to marine conservation. For a nice ending of the Reef Check we made a barbeque at the RSEC house – of course without fish.

RC-Safari-2010

 

Reef Check

RC-Safari-2010

Reef Check

 
 

Christmas Reef Check - Weekly report 27.12.2012 - 3.1.2013
After the arrival of all participants we started the project with some presentations about the concept and the background of Reef Check. Besides we learned to determine different fish, invertebrates and substrate types. During our training dives we could discover a lot of them in their natural environment. To be sure that our collected data can be used, everyone had to pass a short test. Now we are looking forward to start the survey dives at different reefs in and around Dahab.

  Red Sea
 
 

Weekly report 20. – 27.12.2012

On Monday Nina flew to Norway to visit her family. We worked on on our different projects or went diving. Furthermore we took care for two pupils from Sweden which came for a Biology-course. We went snorkeling and diving with the two girls to show them different organisms living in the Red Sea. 3 volunteers went for a trip to Mount Sinai to watch the sunrise. To be on the top in time, you have to hike an altitude of more than 2000 meters. On top were about 4°C which came close to the European winter. The tour was very exhausting, but it was worth the effort.
On Thursday 5 out of 8 volunteers left to go back home. Now it is quite quiet here.

  Red Sea
 
 

Masbat Bay Conservation II – Review fifth week

In the fifth week we finished the surveys in the Masbat Bay. We had examined all areas of the bay and could start the analysis of the data.
Besides we had the chance to take part in a fluorescent night dive. Here we had to put special glasses on our masks to filter the light. Instead of the usual lamps we took some torches with blue light with us. The blue light is reflected by the fluorescent organisms which glow in different colours. We could see red, orange and green fish, crabs and corals. In the beginning it was a little bit odd to dive almost blind because of the filter glasses on our masks. But we became accustomed to this and enjoyed the special adventure.
A nice ending of the Masbat Bay Conservation Project was a boat trip to El Shugarat and Gabr el Bint. During three dives we admired the beautiful corals and we saw a big swarm of Milkfish. Now we just have to analyse some data and then the project is finished.
We all had a lot of fun, advanced our diving skills and learned many things about the life in the Red Sea. The last five weeks will be memorable for all of us and some of us will certainly come back to Dahab.

 

Fluorescence

MBC2012

 
 

Masbat Bay Conservation II – Review fourth week

Our fourth week in Dahab bestowed us a unique adventure. After a sunny morning a big black cloud bank appeared behind the mountains. A few minutes later it began raining cats and dogs and even hailstones fell down. After the hailstorm, Dahab was a big chaos. All houses were full of water and a lot of dirt and rubbish was washed from the wadis into the bay. In the days after we cancelled all of our survey-dives because of the bad visibility under water. A few days later most of the mud was washed away by the current and we could start again with the surveys. However we determined that a lot of corals didn´t survive the hailstorm. In spite of that disaster we continued the Masbat Bay Conservation Project and analysed the substrates and fish stocks. A few people of our group went in for a trip to the Islands and Eel Garden.   After the dives we had some office work to do, for example the Nabq field guide and the analysis of the project data.

Jessica Knoop

 

MBC2012

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Masbat Bay Conservation II – Review third week

We started the third week with a trip to Ras Abu Galum. This diving spot is only reachable over a camel road, so after a short car drive we had to load our diving equipment on the camels. After a ride on the camels over 1,5 h we arrived the bedouin village and enjoyed two wonderful dives. On the way back we rode again on the camels.
In the late afternoon of the next day we did a night dive, where we explored the flora and fauna at night. Highlight of this dive were the hunting lionfish, a big sea pen and a Spanish dancer.

By way of variation at the daily survey dives we went to the protected area Nabq. In the wadis (which are dried riverbeds) we learnt a lot about the life in the desert and investigated the mangroves. During a snorkel trip we observed a lot of upside down jellyfish and juvenile fish. On the beach we could marvel at the wreck of the Maria Schröder which ran aground in 1956.

 

  Robert Red Sea
 
 

Masbat Bay Conservation II – Review second week

We spent the second week of the Masbat Bay Conservation project mostly doing survey dives. Depending on weather and waves, these were carried out either in Mashraba or Bannerfish Bay. During the dives we optimized the survey methods, and the work became easier with each survey. Nina also showed us two dive sites outside of the Masbat Bay, Rick's Reef and Canyon Coral Garden, where we were lucky to encounter even two Napoleon wrasses at close range, one male and female. Besides the survey dives, we spent the time in the office to work on a report about artificial reefs.

 

 

  MBC2012
 
 

Masbat Bay Conservation II – Review first week

During the first week of the Masbat Conservation Project we learned a lot about the methods of survey dives. We practiced recognizing indicator fishes and –substrates to determine the changes in fish population and substrate composition.
This was achieved on land with pictures and applied underwater during practice dives. Furthermore we practiced how to move around during survey dives and adapt the buoyancy. Especially the exercises underwater in the buoyancy park, which consists of different obstacles and games, were a lot of fun.
After a short exam about the recognition of indicators we started some calibration dives where we practiced the method of the actual surveys. During the dives we realized that the water was very polluted, so we did some clean-up snorkeling.
The best part of the week was when two volunteers were snorkeling at the house reef and saw a Napoleon wrasse, a turtle and an eagleray.

 

 

 

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Dahab Reef Monitoring 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.

 

 

 

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Dahab Reef Monitoring 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.

 

 

 

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Dahab Reef Monitoring 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.

 

 

 

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Dahab Reef Monitoring 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.

 

 

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Dahab Reef Monitoring 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

 
 

University group of Bonn visits RSEC in Dahab (21.8.-4.9.2012)

Our trip to Dahab, Egypt, was a great success, especially because of the excellent organization of the RSEC. The always had good tips on best snorkeling and diving sites along with interesting lectures about Coral Reef organisms and the Red Sea environment. Our accommodation was impressive, a fully equipped, tastefully decorated oriental house, with a large roof terrace and a beautiful garden. On the spacious terrace you can perfectly end the day with smoking a shisha. Dahab itself offers its stunning coral reefs. It also offers many good restaurants serving a variety of dishes and provides an excellent service, bread with various dips as a starter and Bedouin tea afterwards. The prices are cheap compared to Germany.


Overall, Dahab is definitely recommended for a great snorkeling or diving vacation. RSEC’s staff understands a lot about scuba diving and snorkeling, but specifically about the unique environment of the Red Sea, where they are very committed about its conservation.

 

Uni Bonn

Uni Bonn

  Uni Bonn   Uni Bonn   Uni Bonn
 
 

Coral Project Dahab 2012-II fifth (and last) week

On Thursday and Friday, we had on each day again two dives at lighthouse, which were really fun! But nothing was as good as the fluorescent night-dive on Saturday, for which we used special masks and bluelight torches and which gave us the impression of having Christmas under water! The next day we were doing two dives again, one clean-up and one survey dive. On Tuesday evening we gave a presentation about our project for the university group that is here doing a field course. On Wednesday we dived for the last time but this time at Islands, which is very nice because of the huuuuge pinnacles of Porites, almost as big as a house ;) In the evening of the same day we went to the desert for one of the famous Bedouin dinners. We were all sitting around the fire and enjoyed the delicious food. Unfortunately it was time for the farewell but we all hope to come back soon!

  Coral Project
 
 

Coral Project Dahab 2012-II fourth week

In the fourth week we started to evaluate our data. Therefore we designed some graphs from the results to compare the data from the different dive sites. We are doing the final evaluation next week, so you still have to wait for the results. Furthermore we made a presentation for the recently arrived student group from Germany to tell them all about our volunteer activities. The presentation will be given this evening…     
Between the office work times there was a lot to do under water as well: we started with the surveys at Lighthouse and picked up the rubbish between Lighthouse and Mashraba. Because of aesthetic reasons we will not go in details of what we found! Meanwhile collecting the data underwater proceeds quickly and it’s fun to experience our own progresses underwater too!   

 

 

 

Coral Project

Coral Project

 
 

Coral Project Dahab 2012-II third week

Three weeks are already passed and you feel it. We make the way to the dive center without being hunted by goats and underwater there are almost no crashes. Even the survey work is better, everybody knows what to do and we have a certain routine. We all manage to swim in a head-down position while writing down the data. Because diving here is so fascinating, even on our days off we are all diving. We already saw another turtle, eagle rays and sting rays. So now on our to-see list there are only left sharks, whale sharks, dolphins and sea horses. This week we finally had the boat trip. We were all pretty sure that we were going to see something spectacular, but like always we had bad luck. Nevertheless it was still a beautiful day and 3 fantastic dives. After work we have enough time to visit different places in Dahab. That’s why we all spend an unforgettable night in the desert, watching the meteor rain. There are just a few survey sites left, so that we are all looking forward to use the last dives as fun dives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coral Project

Coral Project

 
 

Coral Project Dahab 2012-II second week

In the second week Nina showed us the Survey Methods. So that the following dives were a bit complicated, but today everybody manages to swim backwards and in a head down position. And the whole credit for this goes to Abby, who trained us very patiently in the Buoyancy park, even if we failed the triangle for the 100th time. We had the most fun with the underwater camera, which everyone was allowed to play around with, so that we took a lot of funny photos. Now we need the camera for the video transect and only one has the honor of  filming. Actually nobody really knows how to hover in the same distance above the transect line and swim slow enough, so that we can analyse the video. But we get better every day. In this week we have way more work to do than in the first, we have to plan the dives, put in the data, analyse the videos and complete the disease catalogue. Because we have loads of work our days start early and end later. But we are already improving and working more efficiently. But we all don´t care as long as we have these breathtaking dives every day. Like today we saw our first turtle!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coral Project

Coral Project

 
 

Coral Project Dahab 2012-II first week

The first week passed very fast. The first days Nina showed us everything and explained a lot, besides everbody got their dive equipment. We really had to get used to the 3D-Element water, so at the beginning there were a lot of collisions between the buddies. That’s why the first thing that we learned was to pay more attention at our buddy. Nina shared every day a bit of her knowledge with us, so that we all had the feeling to never ever be able to separate all the corals and diseases. So we had to prove our new learned knowledge about all the corals underwater and in two tests. After the work we tried a lot of Dahab’s Restaurants, but after a week we already have been daily guests at the restaurant next to the dive center. The team of the Sinai Divers Backpackers is really nice and always helping, even in Ramadan they carry our tanks. And whenever you are bored just have a talk with them.

 

 

 

Coral Project

Coral Project

 
 

Masbat Bay Conservation - Week review 7. – 14.6.2012
During the fourth week we continued working on the project diligently. Unfortunately Brigitte and Viki already left on Sunday, so that we are only three people left. Nonetheless we are making good progress, so that we only have a few 5 meter transects left to work on.

In addition to the transects we started examining seagrass-quadrats. Therefore we measure the canopy height in 5 random places and estimate the percentage of seagrass in the quadrat. Macro organisms are also recorded. This data will be compared to previous years.

During our numerous dives we already saw a lot of rare organisms. For example we saw lots of seahorses, (ghost-) pipefishes and a free-swimming giant moray, which got cleaned by a cleaner wrasse on the way.

On our day off on Wednesday we did a fascinating dive in Eel Garden. We saw hundreds of Red Sea garden eels and lots of Broomtail wrasses.  

 

 

 

 

MBC2012-I

MBC2012-I

 
 

Masbat Bay Conservation - Week review 31.5. – 7.6.2012
In the beginning of the third week of the Masbat Bay Conservation Project we still spent time cementing our knowledge about fish and substrate types by doing two dives a day. Of course we also saw a lot of cool things while practicing.
Soon we began to do the first real transects (no practice). These dives were something completely different for us volunteers, yet we immediately enjoyed it, as we were able put our acquired knowledge to use and came up with results. While doing the transects, we always had two buddy teams, one monitored the fish, the other one took care of the substrate.

As we were approaching full moon, we did a few night-dives to observe the rare coral-spawning, which happens only once a year in some coral species. Unfortunately we did not observe any spawning, but we still had a lot of fun watching the underwater nightlife.
One highlight of the week was the trip to the Nabq Protected Resource Area, which is summarized in a detailed separate report.

To conclude the week, our whole crew did a dive trip by jeep, where we did wonderful dives at Canyon and the famous Blue Hole. We especially liked the entrance through “Bells” into the Blue Hole.

 

 

 

MBC2012-I

MBC2012-I

 
 

Trip to Nabq Managed Resource Protected Area 6.6.2012 (Masbat Bay Conservation Project)

On Wednesday we finally did our long expected fieldtrip to Nabq. We therefore got up at an unearthly hour, jumped inside the jeep and drove at what for some seemed like a tremendous pace to our first stop the Umbrella- shaped Acacia tree. Upon our arrival there we took a closer look at the tree, searched the grounds for other brushwood or turned around stones hoping to find whatever flies, creeps or crawls. Later on a few of us climbed the nearby mountain (some more successful than others) to enjoy the impressive view of the Wadi and the sea.
Once on the bottom we went on to the beach, where we had some rest drinking Bedouin tea, watching the mangroves and the Maria Schröder ship wreck. After everyone was ready and refreshed we of course did not want to miss the chance to walk over to the wreck and cast a first hand glance on the rusty, big thing on the horizon.  This yet turned out to be easier said than done. With all the sea urchins and holes you really had to be careful where to step (of course swimming doesn’t work either when you have a camera in your hand…), so that most of us decided to turn back after half the way.  Vincent and Nese were however stubborn enough to make their way through the spines and excitedly climbed around on the Maria Schröder. Brigitte on the other hand chose to swim around a little with all her clothes on instead.
After all this heavy physical activity we were all happy to get a well deserved meal (Chicken, veggies and rice à la Hamed) and then went on to go snorkeling in the lagoon by the mangroves. We however  soon found out that this is a lot more difficult at low tide than we had thought it to be and after lying in the seagrass for some times soon decided to give up on it. We therefore got out and took a look at the mangroves from outside the water and listened to Nina telling some interesting facts.
After having seen what we wanted to see, we packed our stuff and drove to the Arak dunes to check whether the fruits are really red and the plants are really growing to the south as we had read it in the book. Having convinced ourselves of the accuracy of the literature we set off on our way back home.
So all in all it was a great day with many impressive landscapes and as always a lot of fun.

 

MBC2012-I

MBC2012-I

MBC2012-I

 
 

Masbat Bay Conservation Project - Second week 24.-31.5.2012

At the beginning of the second week Isabelle, Brigitte and Viktoria arrived! The RSEC-house is now quite busy and living there together is working great.

The volunteer group is now complete, so we started with the preparation of the Masbat Bay Conservation Project, on which we were then working on the whole week. The preparation included informative presentations from Nina about the Masbat Bay and its inhabitants and substrates, some of which we had to be able to identify. To practise this we did many interesting dives, where we worked with transects of 20 m. There we saw a lot of awesome indicator fishes and many other marine organisms like turtles, sepias, blue spotted stingray, seahorses (!!!), napoleon wrasse etc.

Beside the Masbat Bay Conservation Project we had a meeting with a school class. Corinne, Nese and Vincent made a presentation and discussed some aspects of the protection of reef ecosystems in a playful way with them. The highlight was snorkelling with the 6 to 11 years old children in the Masbat Bay. Now we are looking forward to on the transect work during the next few weeks. Because it is now the time of the year where you can observe mass coral spawning, we will do some night dives the following days and hope to be lucky enough to see it.

 

 

MBC2012-I

MBC2012-I

 
 

Masbat Bay Conservation Project - First week 18.-24.5.12

On the first day of this years’ Masbat Bay Conservation Project the recently arrived volunteers passed a check-dive.  After being back up on the surface, Nina introduced us to the project.

During the next week we did a few clean-up dives. There is a lot of rubbish that gets blown into the sea from the numerous restaurants on the shore. After these dives we always carried out large amounts of rubbish.

Another dive had the purpose to look for the Blue-striped Snapper and Painted Sweetlips, which are important indicators for overfishing. We came across one Painted Sweetlip and numerous Snappers.

The camel ride to Abu Galum was probably the highlight of the week. Next to enjoying very nice reef-formations, the camel riding was a unique experience.

We are now looking forward to the arrival of the last few participants to really get started with the project.

 

 

 

MBC2012-I

MBC2012-I

  MBC2012-I   MBC2012-I    
 
 

Reef Check Safari Northern Route 19.-26.4.2012

On April 19 our team consisting of Frank Matheis (D), Jürgen Reimsbacher (D), Jody Lundrigan (CAN), Alexandra Schaef (D), Corinne L´Eplattenier (CH), marine biologist Nina Milton (NOR/EG), and our dive guide Sherif Diab (EG) of Sinai Divers Sharm el Sheikh departed for the 16th year Reef Check in the northern Red Sea. We spent the first four days in Ras Mohamed national park before we moved on to Tiran Island with the legendary safari boat of Sinai Divers, the Ghazala I. Dive sites on the itinerary included  Dunraven, Small Crack, Stingray Station, Anemone City, Shark Reef, Yolanda Reef, Ras Ghozlani , Jackson Reef, Thomas Reef and Gordon Reef, among others.  Excellent visibility, sea as smooth as glass and Sherif´s amazing planning of our dives made it an unforgettable adventure! Parallel to the dives we were cramming the Reef Check indicators we needed to know for the upcoming Reef Check surveys with Nina until our brains hurt. Thanks a lot Nina for your patience and extraordinary support! It was great fun! On April 23 we conducted a calibration dive in South Lagoon of Tiran. Everything went fine so that we could collect data at Jackson Reef and Gordon Reef the following two days.
The data is important for evaluating the health of coral reefs.  The data collected suggest that the reefs are in relatively good condition. Few recently killed coral, coral damage and diseases were recorded. Apart from some of the popular “food fish” having a low abundance (e.g. snappers, groupers), Napoleon wrasse encounters were common on almost every dive.
We are convinced that this Reef Check safari has not been our last. The combination of a diving vacation with learning something new about the unique ecosystem coral reef and the possibility to contribute something to global reef conservation is incredibly fun! Thanks to Sinai Divers for supporting Reef Check (www.reefcheck .org and www.reefcheck.de), to the experienced guide Sherif and the helpful crew of Sinai Divers‘ Ghazala I, and of course to the volunteers who joined the surveys. A big thank you to Corinne for being such a wonderful assistant.

 

 

 

RC

RC

RC

 
 

Environmental day at Dahab Festival

Sinai Divers in cooperation with RSEC hosted the environmental day of the Dahab festival 2012, which took place on April 18. At 12 o’clock everybody interested met at the festival tent to go for a clean-up session on the beach. A lot of local Bedouin kids joined our group. They were very motivated and helpful and so it was great fun! The clean-up started at the bridge and moved on to Mashraba and Lighthouse. All in all about 20 people joined and so a lot of rubbish could be collected. Additionally, some dive centres organised clean-up dives on 13 o´clock to complete the clean-up part of the festival.
In the afternoon RSEC offered children´s games to develop the awareness for the environmental aspects of the ecosystem reef. Additionally Helen Stevens´s face painting created huge interest. Thanks Helen Stevens for your great work! J The kids learned something about the fishes in the Red Sea, about the influence of the tourism on the sea and therefore also on the reef, the corals and its habitants. At 5pm the presentation about sharks started. It was given by Abby Stevens and there were about 25 people listening.  It was about the shark population which is devastated by overexploitation, including targeted fishing, bycatch and finning. After the presentation the Project Aware petition ,,give sharks a fighting chance” was passed, which is closing loopholes in existing global shark management policies and insisting on full protection for endangered and critically endangered sharks. For more information check out:

Help Give Sharks A Fighting Chance

So all in all this year´s environmental day was very successful and we are already looking forward to the next Dahab Festival! Thanks all the participants for their huge contribution!

 

EnviroDay

EnviroDay

EnviroDay

  EnviroDay   EnviroDay   EnviroDay
 
 

Dahab Reef Monitoring /environmental day at Dahab-Festival

Wow, time flies and another week is already gone. Nik Petschko left us yesterday to complete his bachelor thesis back in Germany. We wish him all the best and a lot of motivation! :) Last week we completed two more surveys at Islands South and Abu Helal. Both are amazing dives sites! You should definitely go to Abu Helal if you are interested to see the huge coral diversity of the Red Sea. Just a great experience! :) We also did two clean-up dives in Bannerfish Bay and Lighthouse. Unbelievable what and how much of it you can find down there. So it was absolutely worth doing it and we plan to do some more clean-up dives in future. If you have the chance to join a clean-up dive some time, you definitely should! A very satisfying expirience :) At present we are preparing for April 18, the environmental day of the Dahab Festival. So please mark it in your agenda to join us! :)

 

 

Clean Ups

DRM

  DRM   DRM   DRM
 
 

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
 
 

Coral Project Dahab 2012 - First report

Now, we’re here for two weeks already – time is running so fast =). In the first weeks, we had the opportunity to get acquainted with Dahab above and below the water surface. Nina, the supervisor of the project, has already introduced us into the world of corals, the damages and their diseases.  In a final test we could demonstrate our newly acquired knowledge – and, fortunately, we all passed the test. Some days ago, we could also welcome a new diver (PADI-OWD) and biology student in the diving community. So, we are now able to start our project with a team of four divers and one volunteer working mainly in the office. During the dives, we had already the opportunity to get familiar with Coral Damage and Disease-Analysis. The underwater world here is impressive. Many fishes, beautiful corals and other lower animals (invertebrates) as well as the seasonal related limited number of divers and tourists makes the diving here to an extraordinary experience. Unfortunately, we observed a lot of damage caused by inexperienced snorkelers and chaotic or careless divers. With special survey-techniques and methods, we will check and record the momentary situation of the coral reefs in the next weeks. Furthermore, a highlight will be the analysis of the Reef by high-tech fluorescence during night dives together with Prof. Grunz which will possibly allow the fast determination of the health status of reefs in addition to the Damage/Disease survey during daytime in the future. Conclusion: the theory part is finished – let’s start diving!

 

 

 

 

Coral Project

Coral Project

Coral Project

  Coral Project   Coral Project   Fluoreszenz
 
 

Masbat Bay Conservation Project - November 2011

20th of November
The next Masbat Bay Conservation Project begun and it’s running pretty well. We, this is the three of us, Martin, Charlie and me, Astrid, are preparing and the underwater surveys at the moment, which is a challenging, but a really interesting job. The weather conditions determine our dives, so that we have to plan them carefully. So, fingers crossed, that the egyptian winter won’t be too hard this year.
Until now we didn’t record that many fish species, which possibly implies that the fish is getting less and less. BUT we have also some really good news: during one dive a Napoleon (Cheilinus undulatus) passed by … just one word: AMAZING!!! Furthermore we saw the Jayakar’s seahorse (Hippocampus jayakari), which is rare, and as well a juvenile trevally (we guess it was a golden trevally, but it had black dots at the end of the tailfin) hiding under a diver, who didn’t recognized it at all, but we saw it J

24th of November

The third week of our project started … we can’t believe it has been already that late. We had many really nice dives within the last days.
We recorded mostly sea grass as a substrate, but there will come more dives sites including coral reefs and other substrates, to which we are really looking forward to. The fishes are less than expected, which is very sad. But time after time we are agreeably surprised about some stirring events. Often we observed big golden trevallies (Gnathanodon speciosus), as well as tunas (Gymnosarda unicolor) hunting other fish. Further we saw a big group (30 individuals) of foldlip mullets (Oedalechilus labiousus).
Nearly in every dive octopuses (Octopodidae) appear, hiding in the inside of car tires or other hiding places. Once one octopus got bitten by a Dascyllus trimaculatus, which was a bit funny to observe J Further a big unicornfish (Naso unicornis) passed by; a good moment, because we don’t see them that often. We also observed several moses soles (Pardarchirus marmoratus) and goby shrimps (Alpheidae), cleaning their home. Again and again we see the upside- down jellyfish (Cassiopea andromeda) lying in the sea grass beds.
We began to start our dives very early in the morning, like between 7 and 8 o’clock. The reason is, that many people use the entry points at the beach, to go for a swim and to go diving. As many people are in the water and swirl up the sediment, it makes it hard for us to make a good survey.
The weather is getting better at the moment, but it’s still very windy, which makes us missing good german hot chocolate or hot wine punch J It’s impossible to go diving with less than 5mm neoprene. Night dives are rare at this time of the year, but we can’t wait for our fluorescence night dive !!!

 

Hippocampus jayakari

Exallias brevis

Octopus cyaneus

Fluoreszenz

 
 

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

 
 

Coral Reef Adventure - 15.-29.9.2011 - from participant Johanna Fischer

We have two exciting weeks of marine biology behind us. During the first dives we were really amazed by the fish diversity and their beautiful colours. Before and after the dives we discussed with Christian topics such as fish ID, coral ID, seagrass meadows, and invertebrates, as well as fish behaviour. Thus, after a few days we were able to determine many fish and coral species. During our observational dives we examined the blue streak cleaner wrasse and clownfish (“Nemos”) at the local reef a bit closer and we did some observations on their strong territorial behaviour towards us uninvited guests and toward other fish species. Encounters with green sea turtles, small rays, e.g. blue spotted sting ray, octopus and brightly coloured jellyfish were some highlights.


Another highlight was the fluorescence night dive: equipped with blue light torches and filters on the mask we made our way to admire fluorescent organisms. And we could actually see the green fluorescent protein in the star gazers, sepia or sand roses. After this course one thing for me is for sure: life in all its beauty had its origin in the sea!

 

 

 

Abenteuer Korallenriff

Abenteuer Korallenriff

 
 

Field trip of Uni Bonn to RSEC Fieldstation in Dahab (1.-15.9.2011)

 

 

  Uni Bonn
 
 

INTERNATIONAL CLEAN-UP DAY 2011 REPORT:

On the 17.09.2011 was the International Clean-Up day. Armed with trash bags and gloves we went out to clean Dahab’s beaches. Beforehand some of us went to the diving-centers here in Dahab to inform them about the sense of such an event and to invite them to join us because a clean beach should be in everyone’s interest who lives here. Because of the positive resonance of the people we thought that some of them will join us. Sadly, nobody except of the RSEC members met. Nevertheless we started the Clean-up with splitting the team in two groups. Nina went with the one group to Mashraba and Abby with the other one to Lighthouse. What we found there was alarming. A grain of sand was followed by a cigarette butt and also plastic bottles, cans and other unpleasant surprises. Luckily some people joined us after they had seen us working. Some tourists watched us when we were cleaning, but they were not too interested in helping……. After 1, 5 hours of collecting trash we ended our work because of the nightfall. At the end we carried a remarkable pile of rubbish. With the help of more people it could have been more.

 

 

Text: Volunteers

Photos: Simon Lehner

 

 

DRM2011

DRM2011

 
  INTERNATIONAL CLEAN-UP DAY 2011:
There are many reasons why the ocean and marine life is important to human and the earth. It even does not matter where you live, along the shore or inland. Everybody is connected to the ocean. It is responsible for weather and climate and gives us the water to drink and the air to breathe. It allows us to drive a car, using an air conditioner and cook our meals, because continental shelves and ocean floors cover many important minerals like oil and natural gas. It plays an important role in our energy needs. 
The Ocean is a habitat for most animals and plants of the world. It forms many special living spaces, where individuals can be born, grow and live and where everything is totally different to our place. All marine life is fascinating in their own way for example the colourful fishes, the impressive sharks, the peaceful whales and the corals, which can be hard as stone as well as soft as cotton. 
But even the strongest creatures need to be protected. All over the world lots of trash is produced by humans. Tons of our trash goes directly into the sea. Fish, whales, corals, lobster, seabirds, sea turtles and millions of other creature are sickened, injured, poisoned or entangled because of all our trash and debris. They have to die a torturous death.
To help all sea creatures we want to be a part of the International Cleanup 2011. On the 17th of September lots of volunteers meet to remove trash and debris from the world’s beaches and waterways. 
We want to clean up the Lagoona area and we want you, your family, your friends, your neighbours and your colleagues to lend us a helping hand. 
Be a part of the International Cleanup Day and come at 5pm to Sinai Divers Backpackers or meet us at the Lagoona.
 

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

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

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Coral Project Dahab 14.7.-11.8.2011 – Bulletin 2

The good thing about the wind in Egypt is the fact, that it´s easier to stand the heat. You can breathe normally again, sleep the whole night and you´re not sweating like hell when you´re in the sun.
The bad thing about the Wind in Dahab is the fact that we are not able to work properly.
When we, motivated as we are, trying to get into the water in the morning, the waves are just trying to keep us, with all their force out.
At a normal survey dive, you try to have a good buoyancy to come as close as possible to the corals. Due to the weather conditions we have now, we are happy when we don´t get seasick on 5m and find the corals where we stopped for writing at 13m. However, now we just try to do what´s possible, that means doing the survey at 15m. Today we also started with an UW cleanup  in the bay, cause that’s maybe the best thing we can do at the moment. Nina is checking the “Windguru” every day, but her face also gets unhappy every day, as it says wind for the rest of the week. So we all just hope that Egyptian weather forecasts as bad as European ones, so we can start with the surveys again. So just at the moment we a polishing every fish in the bay until we are able to see our self in his scales-

Your´s, some cleaning volunteers from the border of the red sea ;)

 

 

 

Coral Project Dahab

Black Band Disease

White Pox Disease

 
 

Coral Project Dahab 14.7.-11.8.2011 – Bulletin 1

Hi everybody at home. I hope you enjoy your time sitting in front of your PC, starring at the cloudy, cold weather outside. Actually we have about 40 degrees and sunshine every day, which is also hard to handle when you´re used to middle European weather conditions. It´s now two weeks, since we started the Coral Project 2011. We are a mixed group of six Volunteers from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Greece. We used the first days in Dahab practice our buoyancy, so we can dive the “scientist style”. That means you´re hanging around, most of the time head down, on a strap that’s 20m long and is placed on a coral reef, trying to get data, while not destroying every coral around you. That worked quite well after three days, so we went on to get information about the corals (Coral Bleaching, diseases and Coral ID). Well, we didn´t do that the whole day as we also went diving to practice under water what seemed quite difficult theoretically. However, under water it´s a lot easier to find out which disease the coral has. So, after we did a test to see if we are ready for a real survey, we started collecting the data.
It´s quite interesting to learn about how a coral reef works, which animals are depending on it and which impact mankind has on this ecosystem.

So that’s it for now, we´ll try to update you now more often about what we are doing here.
Best wishes from Dahab ;)

Markus Dengg

 

Coral Project Dahab 2011

Coral Project Dahab 2011

 

  Coral Project Dahab 2011   Coral Project Dahab 2011
 
 

The Bristletooth and our 4 bachelor students from Tübingen

Hi, we are Sabrina, Anouk, Ana and Agnes and are aged 20 – 23 years. We are studying biology in the third year at the University of Tuebingen. We are now in Dahab to collect data for our respective Bachelor theses. Its topics result from a two-week field trip to the Red Sea at El Quseir. There we conducted a small project about the behaviour of the Striped Bristletooth Surgeonfish (Ctenochaetus striatus), in which we found that this species uses specific sand spots as ‘public toilets’. Being a detrivore it eats sediment off corals and hence this behaviour of the Striped Bristletooth is an important factor for sediment transport. So to speak this species cleans the reef from sediment and accumulates it on specific spots.

 

Ctenochaetus striatus

Ctenochaetus striatus

 

 

Sabrina:

The aim of my bachelor thesis is to examine a possible intention of this specific behaviour for the Striped Bristletooth. It could be a parasite avoiding strategy, as they use ‘toilets’ away from their feeding grounds. Therefore I search for endoparasites in the faeces. Furthermore I examine the transport of organisms of the meso- and microfauna by the Striped Bristletooth from their feeding grounds to the ‘toilets’, what implicates an input of organic material.

 

Anouk:

I am going to analyse whether this ‘hygienic’ behaviour could possibly provide advantages in interspecific interactions. For this purpose I am observing the behaviour of the Arabian Surgeonfish (Acanthurus sohal) towards other surgeonfish species, which intrude into its rigorously defended territory. I expect less aggression against the Striped Bristletooth since it is no foraging competitor for the herbivorous Arabian Surgeonfish but rather helps enhancing algae growth by removing sediment. Therefore I additionally quantify the effect of the Striped Bristletooth on the amount of sediment and algae growth by means of exclusion experiments.

 

Ana:

I am going to compare habitat features of the spots that are used as ’toilets‘ in order to find some patch characteristics that are preferred for their  ‘toilets’. Moreover I am going to combine this with a substrate analysis of the different areas where the toilets are located, as there are also ‘toilets’ over substrates other than sand. As we discovered here in Dahab this often occurs when no sand is available nearby.

 

Agnes:

In my bachelor thesis I examine the effects that the behaviour of the Striped Bristletooth has on meiofauna living in the sediment. Since the utilisation of sand spots as toilets can be seen as an input of organic material, I expect a higher density and possibly a different composition of organisms living in the sediment at these spots in comparison to spots that are not used as ‘toilets’. I also compare the grain size of the sand between ‘toilets’ and other sand spots, because it is an important environmental factor for the fauna in the sediment.

 

 

 

Sabrina Hug

Sabrina

Anouk Neuhaus

Anouk

Ana Rodriguez

Ana

  MBC2011  

Agnes Förster

Agnes

 
 

March, 4th, 2011 - UW- and Beach Clean Up

Today, the RSEC-Team, accompanied by some Sinai Divers Backpackers customers, has completed an underwater clean-up in the area of Masbat Bay (Bannerfish and Mashraba).
The complex ecosystem is suffering from different anthropogenic causes – corals are not the only victims, fleshy algae are covering whole seagrass areas, some indicator fish is not found in Masbat Bay anymore and major animals such as sharks and turtles have become extraordinary rare.
Not only the illegal fishing and old sewage systems are destroying the ecosystem, garbage – thrown away into the sea by locals and by tourists – is damaging the area as well.
The lack of consciousness about their own unique ecosystem is one of the major problems in the local society – old fishing nets, carpets, cigarette butts and all kinds of plastic bags are thrown away into the sea.
The results are quite obvious – the toxins are eaten by fish and remain in the food web, nets are a definite death to most fish that crosses them, and the covering plastic bags cover the light-dependent corals to death.

For the clean-up dive, we divided in buddy pairs and got large-volume bags for collecting, scissors were taken as well to cut nets around corals. The dive was about 50 minutes, while we made our way from Bannerfish Bay to Mashraba, we have collected lots of plastic bottles, cans, cigarette packages and endless butts, even big carpets and pillows were there, but too big to carry them.
In the end, every participant could bring an whole lot of garbage back to the diving center, much more than we would realize on a fun dive, finally it was a good feeling to be able to do something for such a place, that definitely should keep it’s fascination for the future

Today’s afternoon was Friday’s big clean-up in Dahab, a big event that will take place, in different areas of Dahab, every Friday.
Volunteers for the clean-up had to meet at Assalah at 01.30 pm to help clean Dahab of all the garbage covering the streets. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived at the meeting place, that there were so many people joining the clean-up, both Egyptians and foreigners.

Then another major question came to every RSEC members’ mind: what about the organization? But it appears that, though we were numerous, this event was quite well organized. People formed groups, and helped by some organizers, dispersed themselves to collect trash as efficiently as possible. People had come with gloves and some of them with plastic bags. But plastic bags were also provided for those who had none. Some people had shovels and rakes, which proved to be very much useful. There was also a loader and several camions to collect plastics bags already full. And even water, and biscuits were distributed to the participants.

Nevertheless, it was hard work with the sun heating hard, the wind blowing and throwing dust in your eyes and there were much to be done. In every corner, Dahab itself seemed to have turned into a dechetery. Somehow, one Egyptian sentence, before the beginning of the event, was not so far from reality « Instead of cleaning Dahab you should clean yourself », though I think it meant more, that we should stop taking Dahab for a bin and stop throwing everything away in the street rather than cleaning Dahab once a while.

As we had finish the clean-up and were going back to the station, I was actually surprised to see that many people were cleaning the streets and sweeping in front of their shops or restaurants… and, though much work would have been needed, the streets did look much better after the clean-up than before. As we can say, unity makes strength, so if everybody do its share of one work, everything is possible.

All in all, though it was hard work, I reckon this clean-up had to be done and I will join Friday next cleaning with pleasure and invite everybody living in Dahab to join as well.

 

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MBC2011

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Masbat Bay Conservation - November 2010

Two weeks ago we started with the Masbat Bay Conservation Project. We arrived here by taxi in the new RSEC-headquarters-camp! Everything is nearly brand new. In the court we relax in the evening and we feel very cozy. During the first days ...we had some presentations about the method and aims of this project. And of course we had to learn all the fish indicators and different kinds of substrate. During several dives we had the possibility to practice a lot and even if we had some problems with our transect-line we managed some test-transects. Few days ago we had to demonstrate our ability to distinguish the different fish species and kinds of substrate. We are quite sure that we all passed the tests and hope that we can start with our surveys soon.
During the last dives we had a closer look at the algae and seagrass in the Bay. We took some photographs of different kinds of algae and seagrass so that we were able to determine them later in the office. The most common seagrass here in Masbat Bay is Halophila stipulacea and in-between we found some Thalassodendron ciliatum and Halophila decipiens.
Yesterday we started with the fish and substrate surveys. After some primarily problems we now manage to do three transects in one dive. And with some extra time and a closer look in every corner we also found some ghost pipehorses, double-ended pipefishes and two very good camouflaged little dragonfishes. (The devil is in detail!)
The Masbat Bay includes a large number of different habitats such as coral reefs, seagrass areas and sand/rubble areas. These areas are very important habitats for manifold life forms. Seagrass stabilize the sediments so that the local erosion in the bay is relatively stable and also leads to a rich infaunal community. The large seagrass areas establish a habitat which is completely different in ecological conditions compared to sandy soils. In the seagrass you can find a lot of biomass resulting from the habitat and hiding-places for many juvenile fishes. Special and not so common fishes are living in the Masbat Bay seagrass areas like the Jayakar’s seahorse, Hairy pygmy pipehorse, Robust ghost pipefish and the Tailspot goby. Furthermore seagrass meadows are among the most productive ecosystems of the oceans. The aim of monitoring the seagrass is to find possible (seasonal) changes in seagrass abundance and species composition.
Similar to the seagrass survey we analyze the long term and seasonal changes of the algae accretion. An increase in algae abundance may be an indicator of eutrophication caused by nutrient input or an indirect indicator for absence of herbivorous fish, which might be affected by overfishing in the local area.
Other threats are altering of coastline like building in the tidal zone, diving and snorkeling tourism. Therefore a long term study is necessary to assess the changes in habitats and marine life.

 

 

 

 

 

MBC2010 November

MBC2010 November

MBC2010 November

MBC2010 November

         
 

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

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

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Report - Beach Clean-up, Dahab, 02-09-2010

Due to a lot of additional volunteers, a good organisation and our new RSEC T-shirts, the last clean-up was a huge success. Not only tourists from the street helped us but also the manager from the Ali Baba restaurant who supported us with around 100 rubbish bags and 150 flyers in advance for advertisement. We met in front of Sinai Divers Backpackers at 4.30 p.m.  Full with rubbish bags, gloves, trolleys and a lot of energy we started the clean-up, covering the coastline from Lighthouse up to Eel Garden. We divided into 3 groups in order to cover all the area. After collecting all the rubbish everything was put on the trolleys and brought to the garbage dump next to the bridge. We had at least 10 helpers, locals, tourists and the manager from Felucca helped himself. His comment was: “Action speaks louder than voice!” Only due to their help it was possible to fill 20 rubbish bags in about one hour. A free working journalist documented our clean-up by taking a lot of pictures. This clean-up received much more attention than the last one, a lot of people on the street talked to us about future activities of the RSEC

 

Report: Hendrik Frey

Pictures: Christian Alter

 

 

Clean Up

Clean Up

 
 

Codename: Nessaja

Size: 11cm x 9cm x 5cm
Weight: About 250 g
Age: Approx. 1 month (Educated guess)
Origin: Unknown, found with Bedouin kids, rescued by M. (Codename: Mama Bear)
Species: Caretta caretta - Loggerhead Seaturtle

Mission objectives: Release target at 7:30 in Masbat Bay, secure the area and ensure the targets safety while it swims into open water. Max. Duration of the Op: 30 minutes

Operational Report:

2 weeks ago Mama Bear encountered a group of Bedouin kids playing with a small turtle (Codename Nessaja) Despite all difficulties M. was able to rescue Nessaja from the kids and managed to hide it. Nessaja soon recovered from its injuries; unfortunately it took M. 14 days until she finally was able to inform the RSEC Command Center. Major Chris instructed the well-trained V- Squadron to gather intel and prepare for the risky operation called “Release Nessaja”. After hours of planning and discussing the intelligence team was abled to gather sufficient information to develop an action plan. A small group of volunteers under the leadership of major chris should take nessaja at dawn to masbat bay and guard it while it tries to reach the open water. Thanks to the outstanding performance of the whole V- Squad and the proper planning by the RSEC Command, the operation was successful and Nessaja was able to reach the safety of the Red Sea. The destiny of Nessaja has made one thing totally clear: Every being has its place- for the turtles it’s the sea- so DON’T REMOVE THEM FROM THEIR HOME!!!

Report: Hendrik Frey

Photos: Christian Alter

 

Baby turtle

Baby turtle

Baby turtle

Baby turtle

 
 

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