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January 2009    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 35, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Serious Diver Impact on the Red Sea

from the January, 2009 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Reefs in the northern Red Sea are being threatened by intensive recreational diving and the dive tourism trade. According to a study published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin, sites with high levels of recreational diving had significantly lower levels of coral cover than undived areas. The study examined the reefs of Dahab, South Sinai and Egypt that include dive sites with over 30,000 dives per year, and compared them to sites with little or no diving. Areas subject to intensive diving showed significantly higher levels of broken and damaged corals, and reduced coral cover.

The coral communities of the reef crest areas were significantly more affected that the reef slope dive sites, with 95 percent of the branching corals broken. Diving didn’t appear to have had an effect on the abundance of coraleating or herbivorous fishes, but the authors believe fish too may be at risk if coral cover decline continues. There were also problems with sedimentation on some sites, an indication that bottom detritus was being regularly stirred up by divers.

This is excerpted from the article “Diving down the reefs? Intensive diving tourism threatens the reefs of the northern Red Sea” by H. Hasler and J.A. Ott in the August 2008 issue of the Marine Pollution Bulletin.

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