Impacts of Recreational Dives and the Application of a Coral Damage Index (CDI) along the Egyptian Coast of the Red Sea



Dr. Mohammed Shokry Ahmed Ammar


National Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries, Suez, Egypt





Impacts of recreational dives were studied in 27 diving sites at Hurghada, and in other 16 diving sites at Safaga, Egypt, Red Sea. A Coral Damage Index (CDI) was provided to screen the sites to obtain a perspective of the extent and severity of physical damage to corals in four sites.

Around Hughada sites, Abu-Hashish West has the highest percent of cover with stony corals and the lowest level of human impacts. El Fanus 1, in contrary, shows the lowest percent of cover with stony corals but is considerably impacted by human activities.

Among Safaga sites, Panorama Reef East has the highest percent of cover with stony corals although it encounters a considerable amount of anchors, dives and snorkels. The reef area is very large and relevant dive sites are located within a restricted area.

Dynamite fishing seems to be the main reason for a very high amount of rubbles at both El-Fanus and Abu-Kafan reefs.

High sedimentation rates at Abu-Hashish Island subsequently lead to a high die-off of corals at this site.

For the sites screened by CDI 40% of all reef areas investigated by transects have been identified as "hot-spots", which require immediate management action. Thirty-one percent of the 16 "hot-spot" sites were identified by both broken corals and rubble criteria, whereas 25% were identified by the broken coral criterion and 44% by the rubble criterion of the CDI. These relations indicate that recent breakage of corals seems to be the reason for the observed damage. Sixty-three percent of the "hot-spot" transects were located at 4.0m water depth and 37% of the transects were located in 8.0m water depth. Most of the damage is likely to be generated by anchors dragged across shallow reef areas.

The CDI can be used globally to gauge the severity and extent of damage in coral reef areas and help focus attention on areas that need immediate action, so to serve as ‘mooring buoys’. It also provides a starting point for associated dive site management programs, detailed coral reef assessment and coral reef restoration programs.