Dolphins. Sataya, Egypt. December 2011.

Dance with dolphins


  Egypt: Hamata - Red Sea - November 2011

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 

Prepare your snorkel, but forget The big Blue and Flipper the dolphin... There is better !!! I take you to admire Egyptian dolphins, in 1 minute 30 of video.

Video: the dolphins of Sataya

→ Direct link to the video: The dolphins of Sataya

The site where I filmed this little video sequence in November 2011 is called Sataya. It is in the Red Sea, in Egyptian waters. You can even see the reef on Google Map satellite images (see below).

There, long-beaked dolphins live permanently, which can be observed underwater with snorkel fins or snorkeling in English. Bottle diving is not allowed near the reef, to avoid disturbing them. The reef is supposed to be a resting place for them.

During our little trip there, we were lucky. Two impressive schools of dolphins were there. We were only allowed to go in the water for a short session of about 20 minutes. During this short interval, the dolphins seemed to be playing, joking, not hesitating to come and brush against the swimmers, not at all frightened.


Swimming with dolphins was a new experience for me. In Bali, I had given up on seeing the dolphins of LovinaI did not want to contribute to the tourist business organized on the spot which seemed to me not very respectful of the animal.

Disclaimer: this stay in the Red Sea dates from November 2011. Since then, the number of boats and tourists arriving daily in Sataya Bay has increased greatly, which is obviously not a good thing for the tranquility of the resident dolphin schools... Not all operators and visitors behave in a respectful manner, not hesitating to cut them off, not reducing the engines, etc. I went back in 2017 and didn't like what I saw very much (at the time, I preferred not to post anything on the subject): boats everywhere and dolphins running away from humans splashing around, instead of coming to meet them to play and swim as I had seen in 2011... Without being a specialist of marine mammals or of the site, I realize that the pressure has become too strong and that it is probably better, from now on, to give up going to see the dolphins of Sataya. They will be happier without us!

Sataya could become a protected area in 2019. To encourage good practices on the site and avoid that the area turns into a vulgar "tourist park", a petition, launched by Frédéric Chotard Sea DolfinThe project is currently underway with the help of a specialist in the observation and approach of these marine mammals by snorkeling. He hopes that the Egyptian authorities will take into account his recommendations. Contact him to have the details of his project, which seems to me really well thought. The petition is here → Help us protect Sataya's lagoon

Ethical approach to whales and dolphins. To learn more about the behavior of these marine mammals and the possible interactions with them, in respectful conditions and for scientific purposes, I refer you to the sites of Eric Demay, a great specialist of these cetaceans: and Tursiops Group.

At the time, I did not feel that the few small groups of snorkelers present disturbed many dolphins. No need to palm to approach them. They are the ones who come to see you, or not ...

We only stayed a few minutes swimming with them. Fantastic minutes!

Dolphins. Sataya, Egypt. December 2011.

I'm not really a client of the pseudo-ecological mythology, a little new-age and often silly that surrounds dolphins. But here it is. Seeing them evolve freely underwater, very close to me, impressed me much more than I thought it would. It is really an extraordinary encounter.

However, I had already seen dolphins, but always from a boat. It is not uncommon, when sailing in Indonesia, Malaysia, or Thailand, to come across schools of dolphins that come to play for several minutes in front of the bow.

But there, under water, it was something else. I was so fascinated, that for once I neglected the videos and the pictures, to better contemplate them...

Dolphins. Sataya, Egypt. December 2011.

Their incessant twirls seemed like a dance. And then there were these little facetious whistles, almost mocking, when they came almost in contact to immediately go to the bottom. Impossible not to be touched, stirred.

I swear, it's something to swim near the dolphins... It was both beautiful and moving. An aesthetic emotion, almost.

How about you? Have you ever had a similar experience? Have you ever felt that emotion?

  Egypt: Hamata - Red Sea - November 2011