Eritrea’s Marine Biodiversity

About Eritrea - History & Culture

The marine bio-diversity in the Red Sea spans from the unicellular phytoplankton seedlings to the enormous wales. Over 1000 different species of fish and 250 types of corals are found in the Red Sea. Besides, invertebrates, mollusks and gastropods as well as marine plants, such as the three different types of mangrove trees are among the major resources of the Red Sea. According to studies conducted over the past 25 years, it has been confirmed that the depth of the Eritrean Sea is also a haven for 11 types of sea grass, five types of marine turtles, as well as over 72 different marine bird species. Furthermore, 17 different types of sea cucumber with high economic significance are found in the Red Sea.

Giant Sea Creatures
Marine Turtles

Sea turtles are some of the very few creatures that have survived the global climatic changes over a long period of time. Five species of sea turtles are found in the Red Sea at large, while two of these species are located in the coasts and islands of the Northern Red Sea Region. According to research conducted by the Ministry of Marine Resources, 70% of the 110 islands used by the sea turtles to lay their eggs are located in this region. The sea turtles lay their eggs most frequently and in a relatively bigger amount on the islands of the Dahlak archipelago, including, Mugedih, Awka, Dahlet Segala, Reyuma and the Desie island. Similar to the land mammals, there are also marine mammals, such as the wale, dugong and dolphins, mostly known for their size.

Dugong

These types of fish are traditionally known as ‘Erum’ or ‘Abu-Tewila’, around the Dahlak islands. The dugong are mostly found in the Northern part of the sea including, Marsa Ibrahim, Marsa Gulbub, Marsa Mubaarek, Marsa Teklai, as well as Berite and Ras Kesar, while on the central part of the sea, the dugong are found around the islands of Harat, Dihil, Dahlak Kebir, Dirguma, Erafaile and Engel.
The local fishermen use the skin from the dugong to make shields, hard cover for books and as shade, and the inhabitants of the Nora Island use it to protect their underground hobs from wind. According to the local fishermen, the number of the dugong is dramatically decreasing for various reasons.

Wales

Wales are the biggest of all the marine mammals in size and have the most suitable body structure for swimming. These creatures use their lung to breath. They are mostly found in the North-Eastern part of the Dahlak Island, island of Sigal and Mugedih. Dolphins are also found in abundance in every part of the Red Sea.

Marine Birds

The Red Sea and its coastlines are favorable for marine birds. Coastal birds and sea birds have unique characteristics.
The birds that migrate from the cold weather in Europe find the tropical warm climate of Eritrea favorable for breeding and gathering food. Hence, the Northern Red Sea Region is endowed with islands and coastlines preferred by many migrating birds. Some of the non-migrating bird species that live in the marine and coastal territories of the Red Sea are crab, plover, western riff and heron. According to research, 74 bird species inhabit in the marine and coastal areas. Twenty-two bird species breed in various islands and seashores in the spring season. Hence, around 250,000 birds breed in the spring season alone.
The importance of marine and coastal birds is vast, including their contribution to tourism and augmenting the bio-diversity.

Small Pelagic Fish

Small pelagic fish, such as anchovy and sardines swarm in millions to and from the coast or the gulfs and the sea during the Bahri rainy season, when floods drain from the eastern escarpments to the Red Sea especially from November to March. In the winter season, however, the small pelagic fish swarm in a relatively smaller amount.