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Scuba Diving in Marsa Alam, the Red Sea
Dive Site: Marsa Abu Dabab
Location: North of Marsa Alam
Description: Reef System
Depth: 3 - 30 metres + (10 - 100 feet)
Visibility: 20 metres (65 feet)
We used to do this as a shore dive but it can be done by liveaboard. Wading in from the beach there is no surf as the bay is quite sheltered. It takes about 75m before you can get any real depth to dive. Drop down to about 5m and head east until you come across the seagrass and a sandy drop off. Hang around here looking for Dougal the Dugong and a couple of huge turtles - and I mean huge. Then head left or right until you hit the fringing reef. Big stuff has been seen here including white tips and oceanics. Guitar sharks can also been see sometimes in the seagrass area. The sandy bottom and seagrass can be a bit boring but if you want to see a dugong in the Red Sea this is the best place.
Ian Higgins, Dive Guide
Nice easy shore dive, very shallow, saw guitar sharks and very large remora covered turtles. Didn't see "Dennis" but he had been spotted earlier that day! Plenty of animal life (porcupine pufferfish, trunkfish, blue spotted rays, garden eels etc) as mentioned in other post. I recommend this as an easy shore dive for any level. Good for photos and videos as the turtles let you get close up.
Mick Hatswell, MSD
Dived this site 04/12/06 with a party of 10 divers and found 3 turtles and 3 guitar sharks on first dive and 5 turtles, ranging from quite small to very large and complete with remora, on the second dive. Would rate this as one of the best dives we had on this years tour even if "Dennis" had a day off. He had been seen a few days earlier by divers from the same dive centre.
Dave England, Rescue Diver
Marsa means "open bay" and most often refers to a bay which is part of a gulf. A Marsa is usually quite a small bay and one that is not enclosed (an enclosed bay area is referred to as a Sharm). Marsa Abu Dabab is a bay which gets its name from the nearby dive sites of Abu Dabab.
Marsa Abu Dabab is a semi-circular bay which is part of the main coastline north of Marsa Alam and south of Marsa Galib. Little more than a sandy slope with seagrass patches there is no coral reef in the bay and visibility is regularly as little as 5m in the shallows. So what's the attraction? Well apart from the resident Dugong, there are large green sea turtles that munch on the seagrass and a very good chance of guitar sharks, who also favour the shallow seagrass area. This dive is often done as the final dive on a south safari and there is little point venturing deeper than 15m allowing divers to spend plenty of time in the shallow water looking for one or more of the main 3 attractions here.
A good dive plan is to start at the south entrance to the bay and get all the divers in the group to form a line. Placing the deepest diver in around 15m and spacing divers 3 or 4 metres apart will mean that in a group of 6 to 8 divers those in the shallows will be in just 3 metres of water. Once in position the line simple moves around the perimeter of the bay area in a sweeping formation. Those in the deeper water should remember to swim very slowly as the line is moving like the hand on a clock, so those in the shallows have further to swim. Using this plan greatly enhances the chances of seeing either the green turtles or guitar sharks, which tend to be in the shallows. Once divers spot something the others can be signalled down the line. As mentioned the visibility is usually poor here due to the sand being picked up by any swell. Keep an eye out for silver jacks (either lone or in pairs) close to the seagrass. These scavengers have a tendency to follow and pester guitar sharks, scavenging food from them, so if you spot the silver jacks it's usually a good indication there is a guitar shark below them. If you find the large green turtles feeding on the grass they will usually be accompanied by large remora fish. These fish cling to the shells of the turtles and are a pelagic marine fish in their own right. The relationship is symbiotic - the remora acts as a cleaner removing parasites from the turtles and in return obtaining a meal. Dennis the dugong is a unique feature of this site and not something I have seen anywhere else in the Red Sea. The pictures here on dive site directory speak for themselves!
Rik Vercoe, BSAC Advanced Instructor
I made two dives on this location in December 2007. We saw big turtles and lots of pufferfish, also two guitar sharks and two baby sharks. The dugong wasn't home. There was a big current at that time of our dive. It was a nice site to dive once but boring afterwards, except when you see the Dugong. Turtles are always great, but most of the dive is just seagrass.
Hi, I am a dive guide in Marsa Alam and I want to say there is no respect for the marine life in Marsa Alam and no control, it’s a very nice dive site and the diving centers they just look to make business.
Mohamed | 17/02/09
Hi Mohamed, I dived this site in June 2008. It seemed to me that the snorkellors from the hotel nearby were showing absolutely no respect to the reefs (both east and west of the bay), far less than the divers who generally know how behave underwater. Well, I dived there in 1997 and there were no hotel at that time and nobody around!!
Autrichon Gris, CMAS 3* | 03/04/2009
I worked in the area in 2003 for Emperor out of the Sol y Mar hotel and we were the only people in the Abu Dabbab Bay most dives. Sounds like it is mega built up now, I suggest people move south to Fury Shoals for better diving and no crowds... try Red Sea Safaris at Wadi Lahami.
Ian Higgins | 04/10/2009
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