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Dungonab Bay and Mukkawar Island National Park is situated in the far north of the Sudanese Red Sea coast.The park is aesthetically spectacular, with unspoiled coastal landscapes and diverse seascapes. The park encompasses several key features including, the coastal inlets at Khor Wais and Khor Shinab, the Rawaya Peninsula, the large shallow embayment of Dungonab Bay, Mukkawar Island, the largest island in the Sudanese Red Sea, as well as numerous smaller unpopulated islands. There is a high diversity of coastal and marine habitats within the park including extensive complexes of coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, lagoons, rocky and sandy beaches. The park also supports significant populations of endemic and threatened species including a regionally important population of the endangered dugong, as well as dolphins, whale sharks and large populations of manta rays and sharks.
The name ‘Dungonab’ comes from the local (beja) word for ‘dugong’, a globally endangered species found in the park and known by locals as "the sea camel". The Dugongs population found in Dungonab Bay-Mukawwar Island National Park may be the most important remaining on the coast of Africa. (PERSGA/GEF 2004).
Regionally important populations of sharks are known to occupy the waters off the coast of Sudan, and they are a very important attraction for divers. Large schools of scalloped hammerhead sharks form are found within the park and schooling at the offshore reefs in the winter. Various species of sharks can be observed including: grey reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos), silky sharks (C. falciformis), silvertip sharks (C. albimarginatus), hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna spp.), thresher sharks (Alopias spp.), tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier), blacktip reef sharks (C. melanopterus), and whitetip reef sharks (Trianodon obesus). The site also hosts a population of the globally threatened whale shark (Rhincodon typus), which is classified as ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List.Read More
Dungonab Bay Mukkawar Island National Park hosts a large population of manta rays estimated to be composed of several hundred individuals. There are very few manta ray aggregation sites known globally, and this is the largest population known from the Red Sea to date. There are two species of manta ray found in the park the smaller reef manta (Manta alfredi) and the larger oceanic manta (Manta birostris). Both species are listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List and were recently added on the CITES list (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).Read More
Beaches throughout Dungonab Bay and Mukkawar Island National Park, but particularly those around the islands, are important turtle nesting grounds. Both green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) are commonly observed foraging throughout the park, and both these species and loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) nest in the park. Surveys in 2001 revealed that turtle nesting occurred on the beaches of most islands and that the extensive sandy beaches on the eastern side of Mukkawar was a previously unreported nesting ground of regional or even global significance.Read More
The dugong (Dugon dugon) is a globally threatened species, with the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf being home to the largest remaining healthy populations in the western Indian Ocean region. These shy animals feed on seagrass so they are often found close to seagrass meadows. Within Dungonab Bay and Mukkawar Island National Park, dugong sightings have been most commonly reported from Dungonab Bay, but they have also been observed around Mukkawar Island and the area around Sheikh Okod.Read More
The park was awarded international recognition as both an Important Bird Area (IBA) and marine IBA, with more than 20 bird species recorded in the area. The park hosts breeding colonies of osprey, sooty falcon, sooty gull, white-eyed gull, bridled tern, white-cheeked tern and crab plover. The sooty falcon and white-eyed gulls are both recognized as Near-threatened on the IUCN Red List. The crab plover (Dromas ardeola) is only found in the Red Sea and East Africa. Other species are also found in the park include the Goliath heron, spoonbills and flamingos. Every island, from the largest to the smallest, is a nesting site for at least one, and more species of bird.Read More
The fish communities found in Dungonab Bay and Mukkawar Island National Park are highly diverse and varied. The composition of the fish communities inside and outside the bay are different, which is a pattern also reflected in the composition of the coral communities. Fish communities inside the bay are more characteristic of those of the southern Red Sea (Eritrea/Yemen), while those outside the bay are characteristic of the northern-central Red Sea. This increases the diversity of species found and is another reason why the park is important for marine biodiversity conservation.Read More
The environmental conditions in the central Red Sea are optimal for coral growth and reef development. The number of coral species observed in the Sudanese Red Sea is greater than that found in either the northern or the southern Red Sea. There are well-developed fringing reefs along the mainland coast within the park and around the islands, and an extensive complex of diverse detached offshore reef structures extending to approximately 30 km from shore. Corals dominated communities within the park are generally healthy with coral cover at some sites being as high as 75%, which is high in comparison to other parts of the Red Sea.Read More
There are three main areas of mangroves within Dungonab Bay and Mukkawar Island National Marine National Park: at the southern tip the Rawaya Peninsula, at the southern end of Mukkawar Island and on the mainland coast at Mersa Inkefal, and other smaller stands or individual trees. The mangroves are all composed of Avicennia marina, and are generally in good condition, although some have been cut back for use a fuel wood and others have been impacted by camels.Read More
Dungonab Bay and Mukkawar Island National Park hosts a spectacular diversity of different types of coral reefs. The mainland coast of the Rawaya Peninsula is edged by dramatic steep fringing reefs, typical of the northern Red Sea, that plunge steeply from the shoreline. The islands are also surrounded by fringing reefs, there are more unusual coral reef types within Dungonab Bay and there are many isolated reefs situated offshore. These offshore reef structures often have a central deeper lagoon surrounded by narrower shallow reef edges. Some of these offshore reefs are already famous among the international SCUBA dive community include Abington, Merlot, Angaroche, Abu Shagra, and Sha’ab Qumeira, which is the largest of the offshore reef structures within DMNP. The coral reefs in DMNP support healthy coral communities and a host of other species. Although corals in DMNP were heavily impacted by coral bleaching event in 1998, many areas survived and most have since recovered fully.Read More
Seagrass beds are specially adapted marine plants, and they are widespread throughout Dungonab Bay and Mukkawar Island National Park. There are at least eight species that have been recorded including: Syringodium isoetofolium, Halophila stipulacea, H. ovalis, Halodule uninervis, Enhalus aceroides, Cymodeocea rotundata, Thallasodendron ciliatum and Thalassia hemprichii. The seagrass beds are both of national and regional significance, particularly because they are the main food for the population of globally endangered dugong found here.Read More
There are numerous uninhabited islands within and around Dungonab Bay the largest of which is Mukkawar Island. The majority of islands within the area are either very low-lying sand or slightly uplifted demonstrating the classic central Red Sea undercut profile. There are rocky shores and sandy beaches dotted throughout the park. The sandy beaches around the islands are particularly important as turtle nesting areas.Read More
More Things to Do
Built in 1906 by the British, the Lighthouse is a historic and iconic feature of Sanganeb Atoll Marine National Park, located approximately 25 km east of Port Sudan. Standing 54m high with a base diameter of 10 m, Sanganeb's Lighthouse is one of the most important lighthouses for navigation in the Red Sea and offers the best lookout point overlooking the remarkable Sangeneb Reef.