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New Artificial Reef in Hurghada

Teenagers from around Egypt had a lot of fun at the International Youth Ecological Festival, “Artificial reefs-2009”, held at the Blue Dreams Diving Club (Aqua Fun Hotel, Hurghada) last November. The Festival was hosted by the Caspian branch of the Oceanology Institute of the Russian Academy of Science together with the National Oceanology Institute of Egypt, HEPCA and the Red Sea Association.

The Festival “Artificial reefs-2009” has also been held in the Black Sea, Azov Sea and Caspian Sea bringing its message to hundreds of teenagers and students from many countries including Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Iran. They have all learnt a great deal about the environment and have adopted the general concept - preservation of the seas and oceans.

The Red Sea is a wonder of nature and its reefs are known all around the world. Not surprisingly, every diver and snorkeler wants to visit them.

Most of Hurghada’s best diving and snorkelling sites can only be reached by boat. Creating artificial reefs can help avoid overcrowding and promote sustainable tourism. Artificial reefs create additional areas of habitat for corals and fish. They can be placed near the hotels in shallow waters. They also attract a lot of divers and snorkelers, and help to develop underwater ecological tourism. 

The artificial reefs provide new sites where snorkelers can observe the marine life of the Red Sea just in front of their hotels, where diving instructors can bring their Open Water students in a safe and shallow place, and where everyone can still enjoy the Red Sea fauna and flora! An added benefit of artificial reefs is that they are cheap and easy to build, not to mention easy to install. They are a great way to allow everybody to discover the wonders of the Red Sea.

During the festival the scientists and biologists of the Russian Academy of Science were engaged in some meetings with HEPCA, the National Institute of Oceanology in Egypt and the Red Sea Association to discuss the construction of the reefs. The Russian scientists and biologists assured the Egyptian representatives that everything was sustainable and nothing could damage the sea and its inhabitants.

After a visual inspection and official approval of the proposed locations of the artificial reefs in the shallow water near Aqua Fun Hotel work began. 

Everyone was involved and worked really hard to create the frames for the artificial reefs. They are very easy to build and any shape can be chosen. In honour of Egypt, this time they were pyramid shaped. Three pyramids of various sizes were constructed.

Once building work was completed the sea bed was prepared and, finally, everyone lent a hand to move the structures from the beach to the water. The three pyramids finally found their place in the sea.

The first artificial reef was positioned 40 meters from the beach at 3 meters depth to be easily reached by snorkelers. The second artificial reef was positioned 70 meters from the beach at 6 meters depth making it perfect for diving courses or intro dives.

EXPECTATIONS:

The Oceanology Institute has extensive experience of carrying out research with artificial reefs in the southern seas of Russia. Results of this work show positive effects of their influence on marine ecosystems. Their observations showed that the surfaces of the reefs installed in the sea were covered intensively by microorganisms in a short time. These microorganisms form part of the diet for many fish and also have an ability to clear the marine environment from polluting substances.

In the Red Sea the growth and colonization of the artificial reef is expected to be faster than anywhere else because the sea is warm, there is no winter and so the growing is continuous (in cold seas during winter the growing stops or is very slow).

The Russian Oceanology Institute foresees that soon the artificial reefs will be colonized by different fish finding a place to live, a new habitat. They anticipate that after 2 / 3 months the first soft corals will appear and after 6 months there will be the first signs of hard corals.

The International Youth Ecological Festival “Artificial reefs-2009” was also a success for the many young people of Egypt who were involved in it. They not only had the opportunity to build the reefs but were also able to take positive action to improve the environment and lead a beach clean-up. The result was more important than simply “putting an artificial reef in the water” (which is already a great thing!): the Festival improved the awareness of young people about the sea, the respect we all must give it and the need to protect it!

 

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SEEMANN are a company known for producing equipment that is both fashionable and of outstanding quality. They have now incorporated these features
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Sam Kirby is the Regional Manager for PADI International Ltd with responsibility for Egypt, Eastern Europe, Wales and Scotland. A former Instructor
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Who can say that they have ever observed stony corals getting in a sort of "hunting fever?" The role of corals as an important predator in the reef
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