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Red Sea:
the Red Sea may seem to be a mislabeling To anyone standing on its shore and gazing out across its heavenly waters, the Red Sea may seem to be a mislabeling. Its blueness is eternal and anything less red cannot be fantasized. The Red Sea, where the desert meets the ocean, is truly one of the planet’s most exotic and fascinating natural seascape environments. The Red Sea is located between Asia and Africa. At its most northerly point forms the Sinai Peninsula and stretches over 1000 miles south to join the Indian Ocean, between Ethiopia and Yemen. In the north and west are desert plains, while in the south a mountainous region (2642 meters high), which is part of the mountain range stretching from deep in Saudi Arabia, across the Sinai and then into Nubia of the African continent. The Red Sea holds beneath its crystal blue surface an oasis of living creatures, reefs, and coral formation. Its use as a highway between East and West has attracted man since the beginning of time.

The Red Sea was created by the movement of plates in the Earth’s surface about 30 million years ago. In that time, the Arab peninsula started to part from Africa along a thin break line which was filled by the ocean’s water. However, "Mother Nature" did not stop there. Twenty million years ago another geological movement started. The Arab peninsula which parted from Africa, started to move to the north. That movement struck resistance in Turkey and swung to the east, and another break line was formed. This one stretching all the way from the northern part of Israel, through the Jordan valley to the Dead Sea, and finally through the Gulf of Eilat to Ras Mohamad at the southern point of the Sinai. The young age of the Gulf of Eilat is what makes it so deep, 100 meters in Dahab and 1800 meters north of the Straits of Tiran. On the other hand, the old Gulf of Suez is relatively shallow, with a 85 meters maximum depth. The Red Sea is still widening at about one-half inch per year, the rift is the youngest region of continental breakup on the planet, allowing geologists to learn about processes that occurred in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans hundreds of millions of years earlier.

Cargo vessels, oil tankers, fishing boats, and passenger liners all move their trade across this great waterway, but for many, the true enchantment of the Red Sea is hidden just below its surface. There are over 1000 species of invertebrates and around 200 recorded coral types to 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 the very best diving available in the marine world. The Red Sea attracts divers, photographers, marine scientists, and leisure seekers from all over the world, hoping to experience and explore the incalculable wonders of the colorful, abounding marine life and the Red Sea’s lavish coral reefs. In places, the exceptional living reef stretches way out to sea, forming a elaborate system of caves, lagoons, gardens, and plateaus. Some of these coral summits plunge dramatically thousands of feet to the ocean floor. The Red Sea is not all a delight however, as it has its troubles which you will have to stay away from. There is minimal danger from marine animals in the Red Sea, and with a little common sense, even these dangers can be eliminated. Some of the marine animals are dangerous to touch, others dangerous to eat, and some are dangerous to come face to face with. There are fire corals and stinging hydroids which can be extremely painful if accidentally touched as well.

Snorkeling is a popular way to view the edge of the reef, especially for those with limited confidence in their swimming ability. Sharks, manta rays, turtles, and eels will take pieces of bread from your hand, and brilliantly colored schools of fish team all around in bewildering color. However, most divers will tell you that there is nothing to beat the thrill of experiencing the depth of the reef and the abounding marine life to be found in the Red Sea. The lure of the reef is such that many novice divers become totally "hooked" and cannot imagine why they have never joined in the fun before. Furthermore, when asked to compare their local diving conditions with those in the Red Sea, they find it a "paradise" with clear visibility, little wave action, and warm temperatures all year long.

Fishing is an art which still preserves time-honored methods, mostly due to the difficulties imposed by the dangers of the reef. The hook-and-line method of fishing has been in use for more than four thousand years and is still going strong. Conservation of certain species of fish and the dangers of over-fishing are both important issues for the government. The fisherman land a total of 8,000 metric tons of fish per year, which, although eight times as much as the Sudan, is less than half Egypt’s total catch.

The water of the Red Sea is also a vital asset. Surrounding cities are totally dependent on it for household and industrial supplies, and tremendous desalination plants are in operation. These supply drinking water which has been purified to a high standard, as well as non-potable domestic water. Sea water is also used in large quantities by oil refineries and cement works situated along the coastline. The danger of pollution is always present in the Red Sea, particularly from oil spillage. A Royal Decree forbids the discharge of any pollutant substances, including oil, within 100 miles of the Saudi Arabian coastline.
Currently, the areas of the Eastern Desert and around the Red Sea have received a great deal of overdue attention. A joint expedition from the University of Delaware and Leiden University and Leiden University has been working at the ancient Red Sea port of Berinike. The past season the Delaware-Leiden team excavated in two areas, opened a total of seven trenches, and found four public buildings. One of the sites contained offering tables, an incense burner, a stela stand and an almost life-size bronze figure of a cloaked woman clasping a snake. Scraps of colorful textile from the Fourth and Fifth centuries A.D. have also been found. In addition, evidence of trade appears in the form of imported coconuts, pepper, and rice. So, while the edges of the Red Sea are being explored, the sea itself is being plunged in a survey of sunken wrecks. The Institute for Nautical Archaeology in Egypt, is continuing the underwater survey started last season, plotting the locations of shipwrecks along the Red Sea coast.

For swimmers, divers, traders, industrialists, fishermen, archaeologists, and tourists, the Red Sea has its own kind of incomparability. And even the leisured gazer, speculating the inaccessible blue/red abnormality, can be said to have been given something to think about. The underwater amazement of the Red Sea remains a living tapestry of resounding corals and exotic fish, waiting for you to discover its secrets.

Daily Diving, Liveaboard Safari Trips, Desert Safari Diving, Shore Diving, Wrecks, Reefs, Walls, Drifts, Diver Education and Technical Diving... the Red Sea has it all!!

If you plan on staying in a hotel but would still like to organize a few days diving your options are endless. A considerable range of Dive Centers offer Daily diving. This consists of leaving by 9am, doing 2 dives, lunch and returning around 4pm. The Red Sea boasts some of the best local diving in the world with most sites accessible within an hours boat ride from established diving centers.

For those who would like to dive non stop we suggest a Liveaboard Safari trip. Most dive centers also operate liveaboard boats and other companies specialize in this field. These trips accommodate a range of budgets and are usually full board with unlimited diving on more remote reefs. Mini Safaris are available for 2-3 days, however the standard trips are for 7-14 days. At present many of the top Red Sea dive sites can only be dived by liveaboard vessels, including the Brother Islands, Daedelus Reef, Rocky Islands, Zabargad Island and St Johns Reefs.

When life on a boat does not appeal there is always Shore Diving. Many dive centers host their own house reefs or operate shore diving excursions to nearby reefs along the coast. A popular option is shore diving desert safaris. Most of these operations offer rudimentary accommodation in the form of a tent with evenings spent around the fire on the beach. When you feel you have seen all of the shore sites, most also offer short boat trips to nearby reefs.

There are a number of related services to be found in the Red Sea. Shops specializing in dive equipment sales, rental and repair. Interested in underwater photography or videography? Why not rent an camera/video, take a photo course or simply hire a cameraman to capture the diving highlights for you! The local headquarters for diver training agencies such as TDI (Technical Diving International), SSI (Scuba Schools International) and NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors). The nearest PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) headquarters exist in Europe, however most diving centers offer PADI courses.

Bring your Dive License! Any reputable center will ask you for one. No problem if you don't have a license; your options for learning to dive or for advancing your education are endless. Courses from novice all the way up to instructor level and beyond are held regularly from a range of training agencies in the language of your choice!

Visibility & Temperature:
Seasonal temperature changes play a big part in determining visibility. Winter tends to be the period of best visibility in Northern Red Sea areas with waters too cool to support algae and planktonic growth. Conversely, in the South, it is the Summer which offers best visibility as the blistering hot surface temperatures translate into sea temperatures too hot to support the growth of marine microorganisms. No matter where you dive in the Red Sea blooms of planktonic growth can crop up at any time bringing the visibility down. Fortunately these are rare occurrences and the normal visibility is excellent ranging from 10-50+ meters.

Travel agents often promise water temperatures in the excess of 26°C (80°F), which is true for most of the Red Sea for much of the year. In fact, during the peak of Summer water temperatures often exceed 30°C. However, during the winter in the north temperatures often fall as low as 20°C (68°F) with a surface wind chill before and after the dive making it seem even colder. Therefore, at least a 5mm or 7mm wetsuit is advisable for diving the Red Sea in winter months. It is not uncommon to see a local diveguide in a drysuit during this period, but we've gone soft and readily accept the title of "woosie". During the summer a lycra or 3mm suit is usually adequate.

Emergency Facilities:
Most diving centers and liveaboard vessels maintain supplies of medical oxygen and first aid kits. Also, Sharm El Sheik, El Gouna, Hurgahda and Marsa Alam run their own recompression chambers

Popular diving Places:

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