Equipe Cousteau is proud to announce that it has been awarded a grant by the UK’s prestigious Darwin Initiative to support vital marine conservation research and poverty alleviation work in Sudan’s Red Sea.
The UK’s Darwin Initiative funds projects that support biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation in developing countries. The project in Sudan is only one of the 21 projects successfully selected for funding this year from 189 proposals submitted.
Equipe Cousteau have been working with their partners in Sudan since 2007 when the team completed a comprehensive survey along the entire Red Sea coast and offshore islands and initiated a shark and ray monitoring program with the recreational dive industry, to monitor Manta rays (Manta birostris) and Scalloped hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna Lewini), which are found in the Sudanese Red Sea. The Government of Sudan, in recognition of its unique natural marine heritage, established two flagship National Marine Parks Sanganeb Atoll Marine National Park (SMNP) and Dungonab Bay-Mukkawar Island Marine National Park (DMNP), to help protect and sustainably manage its marine resources. The project will also support the management of Sudan’s Marine Protected Areas (MPA) and assist the local communities to realise greater benefits from sustainable nature-based livelihoods associated with these protected areas.
This multi-faceted project is a partnership between international and local organisations including Sudan’s Wildlife Conservation General Administration, SUDIA – Sudanese Development Initiative, the University of Windsor, The Deep Aquarium in Hull, dive operators and other local stakeholders.
In 2012, representatives from Equipe Cousteau, The Deep Hull and The University of Windsor visited Sudan in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation General Administration, and established a large-scale acoustic and satellite tagging program to track the movement of these fascinating animals. The team successfully tagged 22 manta rays. Genetic samples taken during this survey revealed the first living record of a hybrid of the two manta species, the Reef Manta Ray (Manta alfredi) and the Giant Manta Ray (Manta birostris). An exploratory field survey in the deep south of Sudan aboard the MY Don Questo will take place in the up-coming weeks.
The project partners: