• Sanganeb Atoll Marine National Park

    Sanganeb Atoll was the first marine national park to be gazetted in Sudan in 1990. The only atoll in the Red Sea, Sanganeb has one of the most unique reef structures in the whole Red Sea whose steep slopes rise from a sea floor more than 800m deep.

    Sangeneb is renowned among divers as one of the best diving spots in the world. The park is known for its richness of marine life and breathtaking underwater vistas, hosting at least 300 fish species including numerous endemic and rare species of sharks, dolphins, marine turtles, and a good representation of other invertebrates such as molluscs.


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    The coastal waters of Sudan are known for the highest diversity of habitats and species of the whole Red Sea. Sangeneb Atoll lies at the center where diversity of reef organisms is greatest.



    • Sharks and Rays
    • Whales and Dolphins
    • Marine Turtles
    • Fish
    • Birds

    Sharks and Rays

    One of the most outstanding features of northern/central Sudanese waters are the extremely healthy populations of globally threatened sharks and rays. In winter months, especially from November to April, scalloped hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini) tend to form large schools at the south-west and north-east points of Sanganeb Atoll. The occurrence of such large schools of this species is globally unique given their highly threatened status and massive population declines reported at other global locations due to over fishing, contributing strongly to the value of Sanganeb Atoll National Park as a must-see diving destination.

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    Whales and Dolphins

    Sanganeb is home to large numbers of cetaceans, and especially resident populations of dolphins. At least three species of dolphin (bottlenose dolphin, the common dolphin and the spinner dolphin) can be found here. Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) and pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) or false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) have been said to visit during the winter months, making Sanganeb Atoll Marine National Park a great potential site for both dolphin and whale watching.

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    Marine Turtles

    Both green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) can be seen around Sanganeb Atoll Marine National Park. All species of marine turtles are globally threatened and are CITES listed (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). The hawksbill turtle which is classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List is frequently sighted in the waters of Sanganeb Atoll.

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    Sanganeb Atoll Marine National Park is home to over 300 species of coral reef fish. As with the coral reef, the diversity and abundance of fish life is one of the key natural resources in the park. The most important reef fish found in the Atoll are the Bumphead Parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum), Napoleon Wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) and Groupers (Serranidae), all of which are subject to serious over-fishing elsewhere in the world and which are becoming increasingly rare on a global scale. The Bumphead Parrotfish is now recognized as threatened and classified as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List. The Napoleon Wrasse is also recognized as threatened and classified as ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List.

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    At least six bird species can be found at Sanganeb, including the regionally endemic white-eyed gull (Larus leucophthalmus), that is classified as Near-threatened on the IUCN Red List.

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    Sanganeb Atoll Marine National Park is renowned for its beautiful and unique coral reef which are among the best in the Red Sea. Sanganeb’s reef rises from 800m depth to the surface. The reef itself, has one of the richest displays of hard and soft corals in the Red Sea, and supports a total of 124 coral species.

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    The reefs at Sanganeb Atoll Marine National Park are in good condition and support a high numbers of hard and soft coral species, which provide habitat for an abundance of other species. As there is no resident population on the atoll and the park is protected from fishing, it is not immediately threatened by the same types of human activities affecting many other reefs globally. There are signs of impacts due to elevated sea water temperatures, which has resulted in some coral bleaching. Currently, the level of impact from divers on the coral reef is low.

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    Sanganeb’s reef encloses complex series of partially connected semi-enclosed lagoons. The atoll is open to the west and this is the main point of access to central lagoon. The lagoon to the south is accessed via a small pass no more than 3m deep and 5m wide, and it is the most sheltered and the shallowest part, with depths no more than 20m . The northern lagoon is semi-enclosed by a string of patch reefs. The whole lagoon is edged by corals and there are small patch reefs and coral bommies rising from the lagoon floor, making navigation moderately hazardous particularly at night. The lagoon is an important nursery and spawning ground for fish.

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