Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Green Sea Turtles in Marsa Mubarak (Egypt)

The Marsa Mubarak bay, only 3 km south of Port Ghalib, along the Red Sea coasts, as become famous recently because it’s one of the very few, maybe the only one, regular site of presence of the Dugong (Dugong dugong) in the Marsa Alam area. It’s a big marine mammal, related with the manatees, that can reach the 3 m of leght and the 900 kg of weight. The last news about its presence along the Egyptian coasts tell that there are maybe just few tens of individuals left and at least one individual frequents regularly the Marsa Mubarak bay, but mainly very early in the morning or late in the afternoon, in order to avoid most of the tourists that like to swim in the area looking for the “sea-cow” and the sea turtles.

I’ve been in the bay twice, once taking an excursion by boat that reached also some near reefs, and once arriving by taxi on the beach at 7.00 a.m. Unfortunatelly I couldn’t see any Dugong, but I met people that swam with it at 5.30 a.m. in the morning… so apparently the seagrass of the bay is still atractive, despite the disturbe of people.

The excursions by boat can take you from Port Ghalib to the southern reefs and Masa Mubarak bay, but usually during the middle hours of the day.

You can snorkel first in a rather beautiful reef, but always with the “company” of hundreds of other people: a pretty stressing experience, in my opinion!

Usually, by this kind of excursions, you reach Marsa Mubarak before lunch together with more than ten other boats, so the first spotted Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas) live this nightmare…

Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas), June 2017

In my opinion, to have more chances to see the Dugong, to see more sea turtles or stingrays, it’s much better to arrive to the beach by taxi at the time you prefer, far from the busy “lunch time”. The beach is about 800 m long and the opposite bay is an extended shallow water area with many patches of sea meadows were Dugong and sea turtles can feed richly.

Green Sea Turtles are mainly erbivore and they can reach a leght of almost 150 cm, much bigger than the Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), usually commoner along the coral reefs. I counted about 8-10 individuals in the bay.

In the bay are rathere aboundant as well at least 3 species of stingrays: Reticulate Whipray (Himantura uarnak), Bluespotted Fantail Ray (Taeniura lymma) and the huge Cowtail stingray (Pastinachus sephen), with almost the same diameter of Green Sea Turtles!

On the sides of the bay there are some reef areas as well, rich in fish presences. Overall, during the 2 visit to Marsa Mubarak and neighboring reefs, I observed more than 75 species of fishes:  Hardyhead Silverside (Atherinomorus lacunosus), Needlefish (Tylosurus sp.), Black-barred Halfbeak (Hemiramphus far), Silverspot Squirrelfish (Sargocentron caudimaculatum), Sammara Squirrelfish (Neoniphon sammara), Big-eye Soldierfish (Myripristis murdjan), Bluespotted Cornetfish (Fistularia commersonii), Network pipefish (Corythoichthys flavofasciatus), Common Lionfish (Pterois miles), Peacock Hind (Cephalopholis argus), Coral Hind (Cephalopholis miniata), Yellowfin hind (Cephalopholis hemistiktos), Blacktip Grouper (Epinephelus fasciatus), Greasy Grouper (Epinephelus tauvina), Lyretail Anthias (Pseudanthias squamipinnis), Goldenstriped Soapfish (Grammistes sexlineatus), Orchid dottyback (Pseudochromis fridmani), Moontail Bullseye (Priacanthus hamrur), Black-sided Hawkfish (Paracirrhites forsteri), Largetoothed Cardinalfish (Cheilodipterus macrodon), Yellowstriped cardinalfish (Ostorhinchus cyanosoma), Live sharksucker (Echeneis naucrates), Yellowspotted trevally (Carangoides fulvoguttatus), Black-spot Snapper (Lutjanus ehrenbergii), Bluestripe snapper (Lutjanus kasmira), Longface Emperor (Lethrinus microdon), Red Sea Goatfish (Parupeneus forsskali), Long-barbel Goatfish (Parupeneus macronema), Cinnabar Goatfish (Parupeneus heptacanthus), Yellowstripe Goatfish (Mulloidichthys flavolineatus), Yellowfin Goatfish (Mulloidichthys vanicolensis), Pigmy Sweeper (Parapriacanthus ransonneti), Blue Chub (Kyphosus cinerascens), Blue-cheeked Butterflyfish (Chaetodon semilarvatus), Red Sea Raccoon Butterflyfish (Chaetodon fasciatus), Black-tailed Butterflyfish (Chaetodon austriacus), Threadfin Butterflyfish (Chaetodon auriga), Red Sea bannerfish (Heniochus intermedius), False Moorish Idol (Heniochus diphreutes),…

…Royal Angelfish (Pygoplites diacanthus), Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator), Indo-Pacific sergeant (Abudefduf vaigiensis), Scissortail Sergeant (Abudefduf sexfasciatus), Chocolatedip chromis (Chromis dimidiata), Blue-green Chromis (Chromis viridis), Arabian Chromis (Chromis flavaxilla),Threespot Dascyllus (Dascyllus trimaculatus), Whitetail Dascyllus (Dascyllus aruanus), Maldives Damselfish (Amblyglyphidodon indicus), Miry’s Demoiselle (Neopomacentrus miryae), Sapphire damsel (Pomacentrus sulfureus), Paletail Damsel (Pomacentrus trichrourus), Dusky Gregory (Stegastes nigricans), Red Sea Clownfish (Amphiprion bicinctus), Yellowbreasted wrasse (Anampses twistii), Birdfish (Gomphosus caeruleus), Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus), Four-line wrasse (Larabicus quadrilineatus), Chiseltooth Wrasse (Pseudodax moluccanus), Blue-lined wrasse (Stethojulis albovittata), Klunzinger’s wrasse (Thalassoma rueppellii), Five-fingers Wrasse (Iniistius pentadactylus), Viridescent parrotfish (Calotomus viridescens), Orbicular Batfish (Platax orbicularis), Marbled Spinefoot (Siganus rivulatus), Striated surgeonfish (Ctenochaetus striatus), Red Sea Sailfin Tang (Zebrasoma desjardinii), Great Barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda), Yellowtail Barracuda (Sphyraena flavicauda), Blue Triggerfish (Pseudobalistes fuscus), Yellowmargin Triggerfish (Pseudobalistes flavimarginatus), Orange-linned Triggerfish (Balistapus undulatus), Picasso triggerfish (Rhinecanthus assasi), Bluethroat Triggerfish (Sufflamen albicaudatum), White-spotted puffer (Arothron hispidusand Masked Puffer (Arothron diadematus).

 

Luca Boscain

 

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