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Scuba Diving in Sudan
Dive Site: Yellowfish Reef
Location: 27º33'99''N; 33º56'01''E (Sha'ab Abu Nuhâs)
Depth: 6 - 18 metres (18 - 60 feet)
Visibility: 25 metres (80 feet)
Behind the main reef system at Sha'ab Abu Nuhâs on its southern side is a much smaller and very beautiful reef known as Yellowfish Reef. Its name derives from the proliferation of "yellow fish" found here - large shoals of sweetlips and Red Sea bannerfish to name just a few.
Yellowfish Reef consists of a main elongated oval shaped reef with two smaller reef "bits" located off its west tip. It is possible to dive the entire circumference in one dive, although this is likely to take in the region of 70 minutes and is dependant on the current. If you plan this and the current allows, ascend to 6 metres after around half an hour to allow you enough air. The currents here can be strong due to the location of the reef. Although it is behind the main reef of Abu Nuhâs, it is still open to the current coming from the north and directly out of the nearby Gubal Straights. Often the current will sweep in from the northeast and split on the northeast corner of Yellowfish Reef. The dive plans I find work best here is to either drop in on the northeast corner and drift with the current along the north side, exiting on the south edge or, if you want to try and circumnavigate the whole reef, drop in on the south east corner and swim north northeast into the oncoming current.
The first 10 to 15 minutes may be hard work against the current; however as you round the northeast tip you will drift with the current for a large part of the dive before rounding the southwest corner where there is usually no current. Here you should be at 6 metres, where there is a small ledge covered in acropora, table corals and other stony corals. Head east along the back of the reef and return to your exit / entry point. If there is some current against you towards the end of the dive, simply ascend and exit early. Most of the reef wall drops lazily down to the 15 to 18 metre mark where there are coral outcrops and huge boulder corals on the sloping seabed, The coral is covered in antheas, sweetlips, goatfish, masked butterfly fish, bannerfish, antenna fish and there are large numbers of coral grouper to be found meandering amongst the coral formations. On the southeast tip, where you may choose to enter and swim north east against the current for the first part of your dive there are some large coral boulders at 15m where dense groups of sweepers and glassfish glisten in the sunlight which penetrates from above. As well as the currents, which can be strong, it's worth mentioning the northwest corner where the stony corals drop down very gently in boulder type formations. Here, if you stay down at 15m it's easy to swim away from the reef and become a little disoriented, so if you find yourself unsure at any point it's best to head up to the 6m mark where the reef becomes more defined.
This dive site is not dived anywhere near as much as the wrecks on the north side of Abu Nuhâs, so you might not dive here during the day, unless conditions are too rough to dive the wrecks. Dive boats often elect to stay the night on the south side of Abu Nuhâs and Yellowfish Reef makes an excellent night dive. If your dive vessel has a tender or RIB then this becomes a viable option as you can be ferried to the reef and dropped in, then the tender can follow the lights from your torches and pick you up when you surface. I have often seen large red Spanish dancers at night here and the coral colours really come out in your torch light.
Rik Vercoe, BSAC Advanced Instructor
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