Close Encounters of the Dolphin Kind
So you think you can dance with dolphins? Yes, you can, at Sha’ab Sataya, also known as the Dolphin Reef. This amazing reef provides a truly unique opportunity to observe dolphins and swim and dance with these graceful and intelligent friends in the wild.
Sha’ab Sataya is part of the Fury Shoal system in the relatively unexplored Hamata region of Marsa Alam in Southern Egypt. It is a great crescent-shaped reef and features an intriguing, huge coral lagoon. Since Sha’ab Sataya is exposed to the elements, divers are likely to see pelagic species such as sea turtles, trevallies, barracudas and sharks.
Sightings of hammerhead and grey sharks are not unusual at Sha’ab Sataya. Divers should be aware though that sharks in the Fury Shoal system can be rather ‘touchy’ and have a very powerful territorial instinct. The huge coral lagoon houses fish life of the smaller kind, including anthias, nudibranchs, scorpionfish, shrimps and sea anemones.
Sha’ab Sataya’s most distinctive feature however is the presence of a pod of permanently residing dolphins of the spinner variety; some sixty in total. It is widely considered as and renowned for as one of the world’s most pristine locations to experience dolphins in their natural habitat.
When you have arrived by boat at the dolphin spot after a relaxing 1,5 hour aquatic trip, please note the excellent sailing skills of your captain when he effortlessly enters the reef through a narrow passage.
On arrival, our crew will invite you to get ready by putting your fins on and keep your mask ready. You will be handed a life jacket for your own safety and comfort.
The first signs and indications of the presence of a pod of spinner dolphins is when they surface partially above the water, exposing their back and fins. Sometimes they keep their heads slightly above the water as if to observe their surroundings. Or maybe just out of curiosity; as if they want to form a welcoming party for you! It’s an exciting and memorable moment to see our friends at such short distance.
This is the moment when our boat crew and snorkeling guides will invite you to get on board of a zodiac to go out and drop you in the open water. Our guides will always make sure that you memorize the name of your boat for safety reasons.
Once you’re in the open water with our guides, you are in for an encounter with dolphins; a memorable sensation not likely to forget. You will see dolphins passing by on the shallow sandy seabed in close harmony in school formation. You will notice that they are carefully protecting the young ones and that a dolphin mother doesn’t lose sight of her child, gently keeping her safe under her fins.
All of a sudden, before you realise, you are likely to be surrounded by surfacing dolphins. Curious as they are by nature, they can come very close to you, sometimes even at touching distance. As tempting and cuddly as they appear, you should however never touch a dolphin. They have a layer that should stay intact to protect them from transmittable diseases.
While you are snorkeling, keep your arms alongside your body and just enjoy passive interaction. Please do not chase them. Let the dolphins decide if they want to play and dance with you and how close they want to get to you.
If you’re lucky enough, you can hear the dolphins vocally communicating with each other. They do this by producing a high-pitched clicking sounds and whistles.
After the first session, our zodiacs will bring you back you back to the boat to relax and to enjoy drinks and a lunch buffet, freshly prepared on board by our chef.
After lunch, you have the option of a second encounter with the dolphins or enjoy a guided visit to snorkel at the well-sheltered lagoon with its fascinating coral formations and colorful fish life.
For your comfort, the access to Sha’ab Sataya is limited and restricted to the numbers of divers and snorkelers. There are also areas designated for divers or snorkelers only. Therefore Sha’ab Sataya is never overcrowded and spoiled by mass tourism.
Anyone who wants to come diving or snorkeling at Sha’ab Sataya is welcome all year round. The water is very inviting with temperatures ranging from 20C/68F in winter to 27C/81F in summer.
- Transfer from Abu Dabbab Lodge to Hamata at 5.30am
- Sailing journey on our boat to the reef
- Dolphin encounter
- Snorkeling visit to sheltered coral reef
- Lunch buffet, prepared on board by our chef
- Coffee, tea, soft drinks, bottled water
- Snorkeling equipment; mask and fins
- Professional snorkeling guidance
- Necessary national park license fees/legally obligatory tickets/permits
- Return from Hamata to Abu Dabbab Lodge at 4pm
Please make sure you have your passport, sun cream and swimwear ready and to pick up your towel from the Abu Dabbab lodge reception.
Please also bear in mind that dolphins are in essence wild animals in open water. They are not like house pets. Therefore, although they show up almost every day to entertain you, unfortunately, sightings or encounters cannot be 100% guaranteed.