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Scuba Diving in the Red Sea
Dive Site: Sha'ab El Erg
Location: 27°23'51"N; 33°52'20"E
Depth: 13 metres (43 feet)
Visibility: 30 metres (100 feet)
A huge horseshoe shaped reef with plenty of life including sea slugs, blue spotted rays, moray eels and a Napoleon wrasse. This site also makes a good night dive.
Dive Site: Sha'ab El Erg - West Tip
Sha'ab El Erg is a huge horseshoe shaped reef located north of Hurghada, with the open end of the horseshoe facing due south. You are unlikely to dive this site from Hurghada's day boats as it is too far north and there are more prolific dive sites nearer to shore. This site is used primarily by safari boats as a night dive spot or a spot to allow new groups of divers at the start of their trip to get familiar with the environment in a sheltered spot.
Whilst this reef doesn't boast some of the Red Sea's best diving, don't write it off. The West Tip is where I first dived with a pod of around twenty dolphins. As I rounded the West Tip with a disabled diver I had been finning for, she suddenly went rigid and started pointing; as I turned to look north a pod of large bottle nose dolphins, in perfect formation, came in for a few passes and then were gone. An amazing sight.
The way to dive this site on a more normal day or night is to think small, or as Malaysian divers would say - "go muck diving". Don't expect to see prolific coral (in fact much of the coral here is of poor quality), so instead pick a few square metres of reef and investigate this at a micro level. This is particularly good when night diving here, as you will see nudibranchs, featherstars and other micro-life that you'd simply pass by on many other dives. I have had some fantastic 70+ minute night dives here in 4 metres of water under the back of the boat.
Rik Vercoe, BSAC Advanced Instructor
My wife and I dived at Sha'ab El Erg in December 2006. We have dived for nearly one hour. During our dive time at least twenty five bottle nosed dolphins were dancing around us. Their dance and lingering in the water was so fantastic, something that we had never experienced personally before. They were so curious we were not sure who enjoyed this meeting better! Their dynamic swimming and their attitude was more graceful than we could ever feel and see. I wish such an adventure for all my diver friends!
Peter Marosfalvi, Hungarian NAUI Master Scuba Diver
The Gota of Sha'ab El Erg is a great dive to do in its own right and as mentioned previously, the south part of the west tip is where safari boats usually moor. I've dived this many times, day, dusk and night. Its a mini 'aquarium' with added bonus of dolphins on many occasions.
In Jan 2008 we drifted down the channel in 12m, which coming back can be a problem because the current is against. The best action is to either start a marker buoy party and be picked up by zodiac, or hug the main reef wall "under the current" till well past the boat and around the dead south side. Ascend to safety stop and diagonally drift across to the stern ladders of the boat.
The channel splits some 70m north to the right is main reef, to the left is the Gota. To the right is an area where glassfish and copper sweepers congregate under large fire and table corals, mid-wall. A large coral structure sits in the middle of the channel end and to the left ahead small coral heads descend gradually to about 15-20m. To the left is the gota and over to the west of this rests two large coral heads, one about 10m away, the other some 20m away from this. These are covered in health soft and hard corals with many coral grouper, soldierfish, squirrelfish and red eye, and they extend some 8m proud of the seabed.
The area at the split is particularly good for spotting most of the bigger marine life. On our recent dive we had Napoleon wrasse, free-swimming morays, Egyptian angelfish. Around the corner of the gota is a really good hard coral garden, with a large lobe coral which reaches some 4m off the seabed. This is a favourite place of mine, and we were lucky to see a turtle at 10m crusing gently past. The area has many table corals on the bright white sand and these are home to many bannerfish, greasy grouper, big eye and numerous lagoon rays.
On return to the boat at the southern tip of the gota in 15m, we encountered something a little different. A large bunch of colourful red/yellow teddy bear coral resides, but close by are two nice colonies of deep red coloured whip corals. These latter usually found at 25m or more.
I dived Sha'ab El Erg 3 times in Feb 08. The reef has 6 dive
sites: Poseidon Garden, Dolphin House, Lighthouse, Manta Point, Sha'ab el Erg East and Gota Sha'ab El Erg.
I did Dolphin House twice and Manta Point once. My favourite was Dolphin House. It's a shallow dive aprox. 22 metres, has a channel and an "island"
with a little lagoon. You can swin around the island, visiting the lagoon. Depending on the current you either start through the channel, or end up leaving the channel at the end of the dive.
In the channel chances are dolphins swim right pass you at tremendous speed, they are just magnificent. Turtles are also at the deep end of the channel, and in the lagoon a big Napoleon.... a very good dive indeed.
Martin, PADI Divemaster
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