Introductory Day in Reef Biology / Full Day trips
 
 

Full Day EcoTrips to Protectorates (in Cooperation with our bedouin partners):

EcoTrip Ras Mohammed National Park – 1 day (Mangrove, fossile and recent Coral Reefs)

EcoTrip Nabq – 1 day (Protectorate with Mangrove & Dune systems)

  Nabq  
 
 
 

EcoTrip Nabq

Discover the amazing Mangroves and Dunes in Nabq with us

Nabq is a 600 km² area containing many linked ecosystems such as coral reefs, mangroves and dunes covered by unique vegetation, desert ecosystems (mountains, wadis, plains and stone/gravel deserts). Nabq is home to many different flowering plants and a variety of wildlife, reptiles and invertebrate species as well as migrating birds. We will share fascinating facts about Nabq’s Bedouin population, the flora and fauna. Snorkeling between the mangrove roots will give you a chance to discover organisms adapted to the turbid mangrove waters, and also juvenile stages of many of the fish found on and around coral reefs.

In order to minimise our impact on the environment we will drive and walk only in designated areas, bring our litter with us when we leave and only use recyclable items. We will use services provided by local Bedouins and educate you about the Nabq Managed Resource protected Area.

The EcoTrip includes a handout and presentation about Nabq, transportation, experienced guide (biologist), snorkeling (incl. snorkel, fins and mask), lunch and drinks.

 

Nabq

Nabq

 

 
 
 
 

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.

 

Academy 2016

Academy 2016

Academy 2016

Academy 2016

Academy 2016

Academy 2016

Academy 2016

 
 
 
 

Trip to Nabq protectorate on 10.3.2010 with Volunteers of

Masbat Bay Conservation Project and guests of Best Of Sinai Expedition

Normally our primary work takes place at Masbat Bay, right in front of beautiful Dahab, but after a week or so we were also eager to explore some of the surrounding area. Organized by Chris and Nina, our daytrip to Nabq, a protected reserve located a mere hour’s drive to the south of Dahab, provided a great opportunity to see some more of the countryside and exceeded every expectation we might have had that day.
After putting together our snorkeling gear, our first stop on the drive through the desert was at a small patch of trees that have been known to harbor venomous snakes and stinging scorpions. Even after turning over every rock in the area, (un)fortunately none of them could be discovered.  However, just before leaving we were rewarded for our patience by the sight of a beautifully colored lizard that stayed put on a rocks and posed professionally for our cameras.
Our next stop were the dunes in which nothing too alive could be found, but due to the recent rain we spotted the tracks of a desert fox on some dried-up sand tiles and admired the plants that are able to grow in such a harsh environment.  Since the prevailing winds come from the north, plants such as Limonium axilare and Nitraria retusa consistently get covered with sand on their northern side and therefore - instead of growing in height - extend their branches just above the ground towards the south. Sand is accumulated on the opposite side and therefore most of the small dunes only exist, because those amazing plants are able to deal with the high salinity and little fresh water supply.
Escaping from high noon heat, the visitor centre proved to be a good retreat and – even though it offered little insight into the protected area which we hadn’t been briefed on already – gave us some interesting information about the desert’s inhabitants. Did you know that there are still hyenas living in Sinai, and that the last leopard spot in the area was more than fifty years ago, effectively making it an extinct species? Well, we certainly didn`t.
At this point it wouldn’t hurt to give you a little overview of where we actually are, geographically speaking. Having stopped in the desert for the lizard, we had moved on towards the coast and into the dunes, with the visitor centre close to the sea and right in front a shipwreck which astonishes with its rusty magnificence and is surrounded by pristine blue water, providing the occasional diver with a not-too-crowded and attractive dive site.  However, getting there would have meant walking over the reef flat, and that of course is not an option, so we drove north to our final stop for the day – an area along the coast that features one of the northernmost stands of mangroves, consisting exclusively of Avicenna marina. Mangroves on the Red Sea grow under extreme conditions of high salinity and low winter temperatures. Some of the mangroves around Nabq have adapted to this harsh environment by becoming completely terrestrial , now forming part of the coastal marsh and dune vegetation, having lost their aerial roots altogether. However, since we had taken our snorkel gear, the land based trees were not of the greatest interest – after all, mangroves form an important and sensitive ecosystem, providing an ideal environment for young fish and invertebrates
To explore those shallow water nurseries we set up our last camp at a beautiful beach hut that provided us with a shady palm leaf roof and a couple of chilled-out hammocks, all looked after by a very forthcoming Bedouin, who also made us some great food for after the snorkel session. And then we went into the water – usually one might think of being in the mangroves as a very muddy affair, but that was far from the truth. Swimming around two mangrove stands proved to be an exciting and entertaining lesson – so much life! After exploring  a forest of upside-down jellyfish in various colors (including a very confused upside-down upside-down individual) , most of them sitting on the ground supplying their zooxanthellae with the much needed sunlight, we quickly found several gobies and their little shrimp fellows, living in a mutually beneficial relationship. The shrimp maintains a burrow in the sand in which both the shrimp and the goby live. The shrimp has poor eyesight compared to the goby, but if it sees or feels the goby suddenly swim into the burrow, it will follow. The goby and shrimp keep in contact with each other, the shrimp using its antennae, and the goby flicking the shrimp with its tail when alarmed. Each party gains from this relationship: the shrimp gets a warning of approaching danger, and the goby gets a safe home and a place to lay its eggs in. And then things just went crazy – batfish, boxfish, hermit crabs, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, juvenile fish of countless species, moray eels… even a Hexbranchus sanguinis, a Spanish Dancer, completely exhausted from just laying a pile off eggs and resting under a massive sea urchin. We must have stayed in the water for over two hours, appreciating all these stunning marine organisms, but all too soon it was time to go. After having some food, we chilled out and admired the blue waters, the desert and the high mountains from our shady palm hut refuge– a magnificent sight that cannot ever be caught on camera and much less put into words.
As already mentioned, this trip exceeded all our expectations and we did not only enjoy the extraordinary nature, but also learned a great deal about it – not from a textbook or a presentation, but through an experience we will remember for a long time. If you ever have the opportunity to visit and explore Nabq, by all means – do it!

by Eike Steinig

 

Nabq

Nabq

Nabq

Nabq

Nabq

Nabq

Nabq

Nabq

 
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