Dolphins of the Red Sea

 
Prestige issue 132, May 2004
 

It’s off Marsa Alam, two hours from the shore, that these photos were taken. A wonderful little bay houses these “nice friends” of the man affectionately known as the “dolphin house.” Equipped with masks and snorkels-the bubbles produced by scuba equipment would spooked dolphins-we move slowly, cautiously, trying to familiarize ourselves with these charming creatures.

We continue our advance to swim about ten minutes and then we hear the thousand and one sounds emitted by these adorable dolphins before they show by twenties, then quarantines, having fun together. What a pleasure! To our surprise, they come very close to us to inspect us and confident, indulge in their play. Genuine show! It is here, in this “dolphin house” that these sociable dolphins take refuge to regroup and…reproduce.

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© Prestige / Simon Nadim

Coming from the Greek “Delphis” meaning “spirit of the sea”, dolphins have conquered the waters and oceans before becoming the faithful companions of the sailors. Particularly intelligent animal, with unparalleled flexibility, the mammal, which has always fascinated humans, has developed a unique physiology: he sees in total darkness, plunging up to 600feet deep in five minutes without suffering the damaging effects of pressure and decompression, breathing surface air with its lungs, but can stay until 10 to 20 minutes snorkeling in the end it swims 40miles an hour with a dazzling ease.

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© Prestige / Simon Nadim

The bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncates) is the most studied species because it adapts quickly to life in captivity, to the presence of humans and can be easily trained.

With a 2.50 meters long, weighing 150 pounds,a temperature of 37°, body shape perfectly hydrodynamics, a lifetime of 50 years, the dolphin comes out ahead of all animals.

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© Prestige / Simon Nadim

The bottlenose dolphins do not form permanent pair bonds, but choose a new partner every year. They usually mate in spring and summer. After10-12months of gestation, females give birth to a single pup. It is at this time that two females around the mother to protect it against attacks by sharks attracted by the smell of blood. The mother nurses her young for at least sixteen months and gives birth once every two or three years.

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© Prestige / Simon Nadim

The dark back and white belly allow the animal to blend with the bottom of the sea or water reflections, depending on whether the observer is above or below.

This mimicry characteristic of most dolphins, is effective against prey and predators such as sharks and killer whales, although the latter is also a delphinid.

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© Prestige / Simon Nadim

Very sociable, dolphin lives in troops of 4 to10000 individuals. These important gatherings are due to the presence of abundant food (bench of fish). The dolphin spends its day hunting fish, plays and communicates with other dolphins. These cetaceans have a true language: 400 different sounds were recorded. Thousand twangs, rattling, groaning, hissing and other sounds inaudible to the ear, are part of this amazing interchange from multiple sound sources.

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Report and photos: Simon Nadim