This story happened to me when I was studying at school. Me and my mother arrived to Marsa Alam for holiday. Somebody told me that here in place called Abu Dabbab lives the dugong, rare and endangred sea mammal. I got very excited about it and told myself that I’m going to see the dugong. So I was snorkeling around Abu Dabbab bay hours and hours in a raw, but I couldn’t find that elusive animal. To be fair, it was not so boring – on the grass floor of the bay you can find a lot of turtles, stingrays and guitarfish. So I was snorkeling and finally I got bored and tired, but once, on my way back to the shore, I turned my head around and noticed a big shadow going straight to the open sea.

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Dugong was a bit less than three meters long. We spent about 15 minutes with this beautiful animal. It’s main business is eating grass on sea floor and taking breaths of air from the surface. In the end it tired of us, scratched itself on the sandy bootom and swam away with surprisingly high speed. That was my first dugong encounter and I was very excited.

During this trip we met dugong two more times, but in both cases it was surrounded by large group of tourists and tried to swim away from them, so I couldn’t make any underwater pictures, despite of having an old-school disposable underwater camera.

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Next time we came to Marsa Alam few years later and got back home without any sightings.

Third time we came to Marsa Alam when I was graduating from school. Nearly every day I was spending hours in Abu Dabbab with no result. I was exhausted and dissapointed.

On the very last day of the trip we came there without any hope. Suddenly we noticed a big group of snorkelers in the middle of the bay and realised that dugong was there. Just imagine how excited I was that moment! I run to the water in seconds, putting on my fins on the run.

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My efforts were paid off. The dugong was not trying to get away from us, it was just eating grass and felt very relaxed, despite having large group of tourists around. We spent with it over two hours, in the end everybody was gone, and we stayed with the animal until it went to the open ocean. It was a great gift for me to spend so much time with it. Moreover, that time I took a primitive digital underwater camera with me, so I had a lot of opportunities to take pictures.

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P.S. I’ve heard that dugongs have left the bay, but as I can see from Youtube, dugongs still live near Abu Dabbab..

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