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Scuba Diving in Safaga, the Red Sea
Dive Site: Sha'ab Saiman
Depth: 7 - 40 metres + (23 - 130 feet)
Visibility: 20 metres (65 feet)
Sha'ab Saiman undoubtedly has some of the best hard coral of any site I've dived in the Red Sea. Located just to the east of the very northeastern tip of a large outcrop area of coastline, known as Ras Abu Soma, Sha'ab Saiman is an elongated piece of reef, separated from the main coastline reef. This creates a sand canyon between Sha'ab Saiman and the coastal reef which at it shallowest is only 7m from the surface and slopes away to over 40m to the west.
On the outside of Sha'ab Saiman is a 15m plateau, with coral heads and coral encrusted boulders, which slopes away to the north. It is here on the north side of the reef that the hard coral is simply stunning. Acropora table corals are layered one on top of the other. Cone coral, raspberry coral and patches of yellow weaver coral cover the slope and stretch well into the coral garden. Marine life is also in abundance with the usual colourful wrasse, antheas and parrotfish staying close to the coral whilst schools of yellowfin goatfish, bluelined snapper and sweetlips cruise around the plateau area and the canyon. Blue spotted rays stick to the sandy areas and eagle rays sometimes cruise the outside of the reef and I have often seen a small lone white-tip shark here. There can be current here and if present it will normally sweep from north to south. If your dive boat has a zodiac or RIB it is best to get dropped to the north of the Sha'ab and head down to the east side of the plateau, round and through the canyon and then around to the plateau again. If using a zodiac or RIB you don't have to worry about making your way back to the main dive boat, so getting lost amongst the hard coral formations is a must.
Rik Vercoe, BSAC Advanced Instructor
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