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Scuba Diving in Marsa Alam, the Red Sea
Dive Site: Abu Dabab
Location: North of Marsa Alam
Description: Offshore reef system
Depth: 15 - 25 metres (50 - 80 feet)
Visibility: 20 - 30 metres (65 - 100 feet)
Abu Dabab II and III
Abu Dabab is six reefs and roughly translated this set of reefs is known as "Fathers Steps" or "Fathers Stepping Stones". According to Egyptian boat captains, in ancient Egypt when earthquakes shook the ground it was said that the Gods were using the "stepping stones" to cross the water. The ground shaking was the Gods standing on each of the six stepping stones before setting foot on the mainland. Whatever the origin of the name, the site itself is a set of reasonably shallow reefs (15m to the seafloor in most places, or up to 25m on the outside of some of the reefs). It is not possible to do all six reefs in a single dive (the reefs are quite large). Boats often moor in a sheltered area between Abu Dabab II and III where the surrounding reef pieces form a semi-enclosed area.
It is here in 15m of water that the wreckage of a famous Red Sea liveaboard - Heaven One - can be found. Never heard of it? Check page 7 of the Red Sea Reef Guide by Helmut Debelius for a picture of this vessel in its former glory. A victim of fire, this vessel reportedly sunk in 2004. The latest story goes that a German dive group were actually diving when the fire broke out and returned to a burning boat with crew abandoning ship. I suspect the exact truth has undergone some embellishment. Although fire damaged, with a broken bow and effectively little more than a hull, she is well worth a visit as you swim between Abu Dabab II and III. The engines are clearly visible and almost intact and in the forward section are many recognisable parts such as lamp fittings and the proverbial kitchen sink. The props are still in place and large coral grouper can often be found skulking under the keel, which is still moving in the current. The reefs themselves are also very colourful with coral gardens and all manner of marine life. Blue spotted rays favour the sand areas whilst large napoleon wrasse cruise the upper reefs. Pods of dolphins have been known to spend up to 10 minutes with divers here!!!
Rik Vercoe, BSAC Advanced Instructor
Middle Garden Abu Dabab
Middle Garden Abu Dabab is part of the Abu Dabab offshore reef system. Great coral gardens all over this site. Also some caves with can be explored. Great red anemones with anemonefishes, giant puffer, Arabian boxfish, blackspotted sweetlips, batfish...one of the best sites in the area.
Erg Abu Dabab
Erg Abu Dabab is also part of the Abu Dabab reef system. You can dive the outside wall and the pinnacles at the south of this reef. Due to the fact that this reef is situated offshore the visibility is great. We did the pinnacles south of the reef. When we entered the water we could hear dolphins in the distance but unfortunately we did not see them. We did see a great barracuda cruising by, varicose wartslug (a nudibranch), very nice anemones with anemonefishes, several moongroupers.
Gerhard Niezen, PADI Open Water Diver
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