El Gouna... the Dolphin friendly place to visit!
In recent years, places like SeaWorld and other major aquatic animal attractions have been exposed as cruel and in recent years, places like SeaWorld and other major aquatic animal attractions have been exposed as cruel and harmful environments to the animals placed within their parks. Slowly but surely the world has been changing its view of circuses, zoos and interactive animal experiences to be exposed as cruel and narcissistic as we take away an animal’s basic rights of life to serve our own purposes.
Sadly, there are a few places like these still in existence in Egypt. Despite the fact that Egypt is based on the Mediterranean and Red Sea which are some of the most perfect waters in the world, it still plays host to Dolphinariums and Whale Experiences. These are where tourists pay money to swim with Dolphins and other Porpoises in tiny pools and watch them perform tricks for their own amusement. They rarely see the behind the scenes areas, where they are bullied, malnourished and forcibly made to perform when they should be out in the wild, enjoying life. They are pure money making factories that somehow manage to survive through preying on innocent tourists. However, despite their existence; things are changing; there is a constant battle for animal welfare all over Egypt and slowly but surely it is one that is being won.
Thanks to NGOS such as HEPCA and Marine Biologist Angela Ziltener’s Ocean Research Project “Care for Dolphins”; education and awareness is being heightened over the whole country. El Gouna has had a massive part to play in this on many levels. Ziltener has dedicated her life to the study of Dolphins and spends her time in the Red Sea studying their behaviours and patterns, with a hope to understand and be able to care for them and preserve their natural habitat.
There are three different pods of Dolphins based just off El Gouna and Hurghada, complete with pups. They are the world-famous stars of the BBC’s Blue Planet 2; which aired around the world in early 2018. Gouna and its inhabitants are very much pro-banning Dolphinariums and concentrating on treating the Red Sea and its inhabitants with the respect they deserve.
El Gouna is different, the community work towards the greater good and Orascom, the owners behind El Gouna are firmly supportive behind ethical living. They believe in a sustainable ethos to compliment the Red Sea and its inhabitants. She has starred in multiple videos for El Gouna TV showing locals, and visitors alike, how the Dolphins should be cared for.
HEPCA are also making a major impact in Egypt’s battle for the Dolphins. They have successfully implemented a first of its kind – a tourist and visitor zoning plan at the world-renowned dive/snorkel site Shaab Samadai (Dolphin House)which involves promoting different areas for different activities without disturbing the Dolphin’s natural habitat, and only allowing a certain number of tourists into the area at peak periods. A year and a half later it’s been so successful that HEPCA in cohesion with the EEAA are now working on further zoning plans for another major site, Shaab Satayah (Dolphin Reef).
A local resident of El Gouna, Jacopo Montefusco, who is the Head of Aqualung Middle-East, recently managed to raise the plight of banning Dolphinariums on an international scale after discovering that EgyptAir’s June 2018 inflight magazine promoted swimming with dolphins on their front cover. Within 48 hours of his complaint going viral on various social media channels, the management of EgyptAir were in contact and assured Jacopo, and HEPCA personally that all magazines would be removed from all flights over the world. It’s these small feats that create a ripple around the world. The community in El Gouna cares; which puts them at the forefront of animal rights in Egypt.
With wild dolphin harassment cases on the rise; every dive centre and boat company have had to sign up to a code if they want to conduct business in El Gouna. This was created by HEPCA on how they respect the contact with Dolphins in the Wild. From boat chasing to touching and interacting with the Dolphins, it’s all written down in a document and every business needs to adhere to the rules to ensure safety for both the dolphins and their visitors.
These are all small but positive steps for the future; we can only see change after being part of the movements towards change. El Gouna is always at the forefront, another reason why El Gouna is special, and why the El Gouna way of life is the only way!