Extent of whale and dolphin watching
Egypt’s Red Sea coast has grown rapidly as a tourism destination since the 1970-80s. Coastal development has boomed to accommodate international tourists in the areas of Sharm El Sheikh, and later Hurghada, Marsa Alam and Berenice. Tourism in these areas is almost exclusively focused on marine activities. Initially the focus was on diving and snorkeling on coast’s many fringing and offshore reefs and islands, but increasingly, marine tour operators have taken advantage of the presence of dolphins in many tourism areas to offer boat-based or swim-with dolphin watching tours in addition to their snorkeling and diving activities.
Sixteen species of cetacean have been recorded in the Red Sea, including spinner, spotted, bottlenose and Risso’s dolphins, and occasionally false killer whales, Bryde’s whales or even (rarely) humpback whales1,2. Of these, only spinner and Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins are regularly targeted for dolphin watching activities.
The Mediterranean coast of Egypt also hosts some important tourist spots, such as Alexandria and Marsa Matrouth, however no regular whale or dolphin watching occurs in these areas.
Target species, peak times of year and locations:
Spinner dolphins and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins are most targeted for in-water interactions in the locations indicated in the table below. These species are also occasionally, but less predictably observed in other resorts and bays. While dolphin watching and swim-with dolphin tours occur year-round, there is a peak in the northern hemisphere summer months, coinciding with European holiday periods and even warmer temperatures in the Red Sea.