How one Red Sea resort is cleaning up its act – and the ocean
Red Sea, Marsa Alam is home to one of the first Eco Dive Centres in the world; Phoebe Smith visits it, along with the area’s other trailblazing initiatives.
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“I thought I saw dolphins on the reef this morning, but as I got closer, I realized it was a huge plastic bag.” Hossam Abdelaziz’s words were not the sort you’d expect from a dive instructor – especially one whose job is to extoll the beauty of the Red Sea – but this was not just any dive center.
Marsa Nakari is a small Marsa Alam resort run by an Egyptian family who loves the environment. They resisted the government’s demand to build more rooms and only accepted as many guests as the reef could handle. They even tricked the officials by setting up tents and taking them down later. They also switched to solar power when everyone else used cheap fossil fuels. They wanted to preserve the coral in the waters, not just admire it. They offered conservation programs for divers to help them protect marine life. That’s why they were one of the 11 Eco Dive Centers in the world, certified by PADI. They shared this honor with their two sister resorts, all under the name of Red Sea Safaris.
The resort had single-story domed cabins that reminded me of Star Wars. I signed up for their ‘Divers Against Debris’ course, free for all divers. They taught me how to clean the coral without hurting it, safely bring the trash to the surface, and log it on an app. The app would send the data to the most extensive underwater database in the world. The database would help lobby for marine protection and policy change.