Scuba Diving with Egyptian Dugongs

Red Sea Dugong off the coast of Marsa Alam

My first dive in Egypt and in the Red Sea was spectacular! I arrived to Egypt with a lengthy list of creatures I wanted to observe underwater while scuba diving. In order to accomplish my goals, I contacted my friend Shaker Mohamed, who is the Cruise Director on the Oman Aggressor and also an Egyptian. Shaker introduced me to Amr Mohamed, a private dive guide in Marsa Alam. Amr is originally from Giza and now resides in Marsa Alam as a Dive Instructor and Independent Dive Guide.

Before I arrived in Egypt, Amr and I discussed diving with Dugongs. He said he knew of a dive site that offered an extremely high probability of spotting these marine creatures. For a reasonable price, Amr arranged the marine park permit fees, tank rentals and hotel pick up and return.


Dugongs are medium-sized marine mammals. They are also known as Sea Cows. Dugongs can be found in warm coastal waters from East Africa to Australia, including the Red Sea, Indian and Pacific Oceans. Dugongs are related to manatees and are similar in appearance and behavior. However, the Dugong’s tail is fluked like a whale. Dugongs are also related to elephants. Dugongs are herbivores mainly grazing on underwater sea grasses. They can stay underwater for about six minutes before surfacing for air.


Amr picked me up at my hotel in Port Ghalib and drove us to the dive site which we accessed by shore. We were also joined by Amr’s friends Basem and Susan. Basem joined us on the dives and helped spot the Dugongs.

Our beginning goal was to be the first divers on the dive site. This would increase the probability of finding the Dugongs and spending quality time underwater with these mammals. Some Dugongs can be skittish, so the less divers, the better. We suited up and navigated the shore line to find an ideal entry point on the reef. Water temperature was about 74 degrees and air temperature was around the low 90’s in the morning. I was suited in my old 5mm wetsuit (which is probably a 3mm now) and I was comfortable. I followed Amr and Basem to the ideal spot underwater and we waited about 20 minutes before the first Dugong appeared.

Unfortunately, during our surface interval and just before our second dive, two groups of about 5-15 divers entered the dive site. One group accessed the dive site by boat and other group entered the site by shore. Our second dive was not as successful as the first dive. The Dugong left the area and we just explored the reef as an alternative. Needless to say, the reef offered a decent amount of marine life from small fish to turtles.

Amr is a cool dude and a very knowledgeable scuba diver, guide and instructor. Next time I visit Marsa Alam, I would definitely request his guide services again. Perhaps next time we can find the Dugongs again or search for Thresher Sharks.

Dive Guide: Amr Mohamed


18 thoughts on “Scuba Diving with Egyptian Dugongs

  1. We’ve never dived in Egypt, but we hear it is phenomenal. How do they feel about women divers? I am more the diver than my husband is and i would be out diving by myself a lot, without him.

    1. Diving in Egypt was great. There are plenty of Egyptian women working at all levels throughout the country. My guide who took me to the pyramids and the sphinx is a woman. There were the normal amount of women on dive liveaboards and on day boats. One of my dive guides is a Russian woman working in Egypt.

    1. I only spent a few days shore diving off the coast of Marsa Alam with a private guide. So not being with a group helped hit the right sites at the right time. The rest of the time I was diving off a liveaboard. I thought the reefs in the south were quite healthy with an abundance of marine life. I saw a good variety of small creatures like Nudibranchs to Scalloped Hammerheads.

  2. I lived in Egypt for 2 years and had no idea there were sea cows – marvelous! I have watched them (Manatees) with great pleasure in Florida. We had Egyptian fruit bats in our garden on the edge of the desert close to Cairo. They feasted on our guava tree which was fine by me as I don’t like guavas but loved watching the bats.

    1. Yeah, I took some time to track them down. They are pretty elusive. The small fish I believe form a symbiotic relationship, they eat food scraps and parasites from the Dugung.

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