Tourists should not swim with dolphins
Swimming with dolphins in the Red Sea endangers the survival of these marine mammals, warns the GRD (Gesellschaft zur Rettung der Delphine, also known as the Society for Dolphin Conservation) in Munich. Despite clear regulations, the situation is out of control, especially in the tourist destinations off Hurghada and at the Sataya Reef.
"It is foreseeable that dolphins will be driven out of their habitats here solely because of the unbridled greed of tour operators," said GRD biologist Ulrich Karlowski. The GRD therefore urges all travellers planning a trip to see the dolphins in the Red Sea not to swim with the animals, but to go on Dolphin Watch tours instead.
Dolphins are hunted, circled, injured by boat propellers
It is quite common that 30 or more tourist boats are in the water with the dolphins at the same time, during a time when the dolphins, returning from their nocturnal hunt, retire to shallow areas and half-lagoons to rest and sleep. The boats and accompanying zodiacs circle the animals. The dolphins are harassed underwater during their sleep phase by dive guides and followed and touched by countless hooting tourists in the water.
The consequences are dramatic. The dolphins neglect their calves, barely have the opportunity to rest and they waste valuable energy and time trying to flee from the boats. They become increasingly exhausted, restless and are under tremendous stress. Propellers from the zodiacs may even cut into their backs. "These excursions have nothing in common with sustainable, nature-friendly tourism or nature tourism," said Karlowski.
FTI Touristik and DER Touristik are responsible and set a good example
Responsible organisations such as FTI Touristik and DER Touristik set a good example. They do not offer their clients the opportunity to swim with dolphins at Hurghada. "Companies such as TUI and Thomas Cook, though, are clad in pretty sustainability strategies and proclaim their high environmental responsibility. But when it comes to the preservation, the concrete protection of animals from suffering and harm, it turns out that the corporations are only concerned about their good and their profits and not sustainable action," emphasised Karlowski.
First time in Egypt: Regulations for sustainable and animal-friendly dolphin-human encounters
Last year, within the context of the GRD-supported project "Dolphin Conservation in the Red Sea", regulations for sustainable and animal-friendly dolphin-human encounters were introduced in Egypt for the first time. In addition to a "Code of Conduct" that is binding for all providers, protection and rest zones were set up and marked with buoys, while workshops and training for skippers and providers were organised, and regular monitoring were carried out by rangers from the National Park. Unfortunately, these measures fail because of the non-implementation and the completely unreasonable behaviour of the tour operators.
The GRD has called on TUI and Thomas Cook to cease the sale of dolphin excursions to their customers as well as to push for an end to the harassment of dolphins in the name of an alleged "nature experience".