Diving the Red Sea0
Author and Photographer: Brook Peterson
For Europeans, the Red Sea is as common a dive destination as the Caribbean is to US Citizens. Although the Red Sea is less frequented by US divers, it is one of the world’s gems when it comes to diving. The crystal blue waters, abundant sea life, beautiful coral gardens and shipwrecks loaded with precious cargo make this one of the world’s best dive destinations.
There are dozens of reasons to visit the Red Sea and it can be dived year-round, but the warmer months from June to August produce some of the most exciting experiences. As the sea temperatures warm in the Northern Red Sea, large schools of fish gather to spawn. Around Shark and Yolanda Reef in Ras Mohammed, great schools of Bohar Snapper congregate during the months of June and July. They are there to spawn, though no one has ever seen it happen. Because the Ras Mohammed National Park is closed to night diving, it is assumed the spawning event happens at night.
Bohar Snapper aren’t the only fish that gather. Schools of Bat fish, Unicorn fish, Barracuda, Snapper and others are also twitterpated during the warmer months.
Titan Trigger fish dig nests in the sand where they lay their eggs, then defend them fiercely.
If you tire of big schools of fish, Yolanda and Shark Reef’s are just a few meters away from Anemone City, a site known for hundreds of beautiful anemones. Anemone city is home to a variety of anemone fish.
Ras Mohammed National Park is home to beautiful terraced coral reefs covered in fishes and other marine life. It is not uncommon to see a hawksbill turtle munching away on some of the beautiful soft corals.
At Yolanda reef, the spilled cargo of bathroom fixtures is strewn along the reef, although the ship itself slipped down the shelf into deeper water inaccessible to recreational divers.
If shipwrecks tickle your fancy, the SS Thistlegorm–perhaps one of the most famous world class wrecks in history—is open to divers daily.
The Thistlegorm is full of World War II cargo, including trucks, motorcycles, a tank, two locomotives and lots of army boots, ammunition, and more.
The holds are easily penetrated and offer a fascinating glimpse into another time. .
Further South, at Sha’ab Abu Nahas Reef, there are four ships to explore. Perhaps the reef’s most famous wreck is the Giannis D, a cargo ship which ran aground in 1983.
However, the Chrisoula K, which sunk in 1981 is full of Italian floor tile and has very interesting structure which is easily penetrated.
The Kimon M which sunk in 1978 is an exciting wreck which lies on its starboard side at the bottom of the reef and the Carnatic is a skeleton of a wreck that sunk in 1869 and offers wonderful photo opportunities.
Ras Umm Sid and Ras Katy offer snorkeling as well as diving, with a large shallow shelf of hard corals. The hard and soft corals offer surprising color amid the desolate desert environment.
One of the most beautiful reefs in the North is called Jackson Reef. Covered with beautiful soft corals and lush coral gardens, there is also an abundance of Hawksbill turtles and a variety of fish.
Diving the Red Sea is one of the most satisfying experiences as the Red Sea has a little bit of everything. Big animals such as sharks are also on some itineraries and dolphins can delight divers who are looking for a bit of a thrill. The best way to dive the Red Sea is by liveaboard, although many dive sites are accessible by day boat from Sharm el Sheikh.
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