The Red Sea

The nearest tropical sea to Europe, the Red Sea is a heaven to divers and snorkellers alike. Located in the split between Asia and Africa it is one of the planets most exotic and fascinating marine environments.
The Red Sea was created by the movement of tectonic plates in the Earth’s crust about 30 million years ago. In that time, the Arab peninsula began to move away from Africa along a thin break which was filled by the sea. However, the process did not stop there. About 10 million years later another geological movement started as the Arab peninsula started to move north. That movement struck resistance in Turkey and swung to the east and another break line was formed. This one stretches all the way from the northern part of Israel, through the Jordan valley and the Dead Sea and finally through the Gulf of Aqaba to Ras Mohammad at the southern point of the Sinai.
It is the relatively new age of the Gulf of Aqaba that makes it so deep, 1800 meters just north of the Straits of Tiran. On the other side, the older Gulf of Suez is relatively shallow, with an 85 meters maximum depth. The Red Sea is still widening at about half an inch a year.

Its use as a highway and trade route between East and West has attracted man since the beginning of time.

The true enchantment of the Red Sea is hidden just below its surface where over 1000 species of invertebrates and around 200 recorded coral types can be found. Moreover, the Red Sea boasts over a thousand species of fish, more species than any other proportional body of water. Not surprisingly, therefore, the Red Sea is considered by many to offer some of the very best diving available. In places, the reef stretches way out to sea, forming an elaborate system of caves, lagoons, gardens and plateaus. Some of these coral summits plunge dramatically hundreds of meters to the ocean floor. There is minimal danger from marine animals and with a little common sense and diving knowledge, these dangers can easy be eliminated


A few of the Dive Sites

Straits of Tiran
The famous Straits of Tiran, just north of Sharks Bay, features some of the best diving in the area. Lying in a narrow sea passage at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba the 4 main reefs of Gordon, Thomas, Woodhouse and Jackson were named after the 19th century English cartographers who drew the first nautical map of this region.

The steep-sided walls of Jackson Reef are among the finest in the Sinai region; the current-swept reef has a profusion of hard and soft corals including luxuriant gorgonian fans, sea whips, black corals and vivid growths of soft coral. The fish life, not surprisingly, is excellent. The strong current brings plenty of nutrients for reef and schooling fish which in turn tempts the pelagic fish in
from the blue. Large schools of barracuda and jacks are common here, as are larger predators including several species of shark. On calm summer days experienced divers can dive the back of the reef and head into the blue for a chance encounter with the school of scalloped hammerhead sharks.

Thomas is the smallest of the four Tiran reefs, and its position in the chain leaves it exposed to some fairly strong currents. The reef's upper section is a riot of colour, encompassing some of the finest soft coral growth in the Sinai region. Fish life is rich, with the greatest concentration in the shallows.

Ras Mohammed
Shark and Yolanda Reefs were amongst Jack Cousteau’s top ten dives sites and when you go there you will see why. The world famous wall of shark reef descends 800 metres into the abyss. The wall is studded with stunning purple soft coral and fabulous coral gardens cover the shallower flat areas. Big pelagic and schooling fish swim these reefs in their thousands - the most impressive concentration bring on the wall at Shark Reef. Big sharks of many species - hammerheads, grey and black tips among them - can be seen in the blue, particularly off the northeast corner of Shark Reef.

Ras Ghozlani lies at the mouth of Marsa Bareika, the large shallow bay that nearly separates the Ras Mohammad peninsular from the Sinai mainland. The reef follows the shoreline at the bay's northern point; a sheer but shallow inshore wall gives way to a sloping, patchy reef face below about 15m.

Ras Za’atar is a beautiful wall that has many cracks and fissures and small caves all of which create spectacular lighting effects. Coral quality is good, but suffers from silting and sand fall once you leave the wall to enter the bay. The rich selection of Red Sea fish makes the site a real attraction, and more than compensates for the somewhat lacklustre condition of the coral as you turn the corner into the bay.

Sharks Bay
Our house reef is a sloping reef broken by a large sandy area one of which houses the dive centre’s jetty. To the south, the reef has a moderate slope and is well covered in coral; north of the jetty is a shallow area good for relaxed snorkelling. Directly in front of the sandy shore entry point, a deep canyon drops through the reef; its mouth lies at the foot of the reef wall forming the sand slope's southern edge. The canyon's steep and sandy floor descends rapidly to depths of 60m and more.

Ras Nasrani
In profile this headland site varies between a very steep to moderately sloping reef wall. The steepest section lies south of the point, while the reef to the north flattens somewhat. Inshore, a shallow mini-wall follows the edge of the reef top. The reef is well covered in dense hard and soft corals, with lots of massive coral heads a wonderful selection of colourful soft corals. Fish life is spectacular, with a huge range of reef and schooling species. Sometimes thousands of Fusiliers congregate here in the late afternoon.


Ras Gamilla
The reef of Ras Gamilla separates a vast and rather shallow sandy lagoon from the sea and is crossed over by a small natural canal. The classic dive begins immediately after you have passed the Conrad International resort area. From this point you dive a vast sandy plateau with a slight incline. On the gentle slope of the reef there are many great colonies of corals and some giant triggerfish often pass by. On the plateau there are large corals, around which schools of pelagic fish swim.


Ras Umm Sid
This famous drift dive begins with an angled wall that gives way a steeply sloping wall with an abundance of soft and hard corals. Two rows of stunning gorgonian fans corals can be seen just before the wall gives way to a coral infested plateau. Bat fish often congregate here and turtles are common. Look into the blue to sometimes spot shoals of barracuda swimming in the current.


Wreck of the Thistlegorm
The SS Thistlegorm was a British armed Merchant Navy ship built in England in 1940 and sunk on 5 October 1941 near Ras Mohammed. She was moored awaiting instructions to proceed through the Suez Canal when she was spotted by two German bombers returning from Crete, who dropped two 450 kg bombs directly onto the ship. The Thistlegorm sank immediately, leaving no time for the crew to operate the lifeboats. Instead, they jumped into the water and were later rescued by the HMS Carlisle, another British ship moored nearby – 9 tragically did not make it.
She was first discovered in the early fifties by Jacques Cousteau who used information from local fishermen to find her. That information was then lost and she was re-discovered in the early '90s and since then has become a well known and much dived wreck. The massive explosion blew much of her mid section away and makes the wreck and her cargo - motorbikes, plane wings, armoured vehicles, Wellington boots and ammunition - very accessible to divers. The depth of around 30 meters is ideal for diving without the need for specialist equipment and training, although her exposure to tidal currents and prevailing winds can make this dive inaccessible at times. Open to experienced divers only.

Wreck of the Dunraven
The Dunraven was a British Steamer built in 1873 in Newcastle, England. In 1876 she hit the reef and sunk along the reef wall in 30 meters of water. The wreck lies upside down and in two sections next to each other. At the deepest point the large brass propeller lies to the north end of the wreck and is open in places for divers who are qualified, to enter. The exit by the ship’s boiler is usually filled with hundreds of glass fish. The sea life is excellent here and a swim along the reef makes a good end to the dive.


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