Red Sea A-Z A-D


KEY : Marine Life Wrecks Dive sites or centres

A
Abington Reef A large, rectangular reef in northern Sudanese waters that enjoys strong currents from the south and is noted for schooling hammerheads.
Agent The easiest way to book your trip is through a diving travel agent or tour operator in the UK. They have specialist knowledge and your holiday is protected by their membership of ABTA or ATOL.
Air-conditioning Because air temperatures can be high in this part of the world in summer, it is a good idea to check that your accommodation either on land or at sea will have fully functioning air-conditioning.
Air temperatures Air temperatures can be very high in summer and comfortably warm in the winter. However, at night, in the desert, it can get cold. If you are sleeping under the stars, be sure to protect your head with a woolly hat!
Airports There are international airports at Aqaba, Eilat, Ovda, Ras Nasrani (Sharm el Sheikh), Luxor and Hurghada. These serve the northern holiday centres. Further south, the useful airports are Port Sudan, Asmara (Eritrea), Hodeida (Yemen) and Djibouti.
Alternatives, The , The This is the name for a number of shallow reefs close by Ras Mohammed but in the Gulf of Suez. It is a favourite place for liveaboards out of Sharm el Sheikh to spend the night, and a good place to see stingrays, leopard sharks and guitar fish.
Anemones Relatives of jellyfish and corals, these immobile animals form colonies and capture their prey by stinging them with venomous cells (nematocysts).
Anemone City A dive site near Ras Mohammed where a profusion of large anemones and attendant clown fish can be found in around 20m.
Animal Life Apart from tiny algae which live in association with corals, there are no plants in the Red Sea - all the marine life is considered part of the animal kingdom.
Antufash An island in the Farasan Islands with a campsite and facilities for divers (see Farasan Is-lands).
Aqaba The Red Sea port and holiday resort of Jordan and a popular divers destination. It stands on the eastern side of the Gulf of Aqaba, one of the two extended fingers of the Red Sea that border the Sinai Peninsula.
Arabic The language commonly spoken in all the countries bordering the Red Sea, with the exceptions of Israel and Eritrea.

B
Bab el Mandeb One of the busiest maritime straits in the world, it marks the entrance to the Red Sea close to the Seven Brothers. Bab el Mandeb means Gateway of Tears, and numerous diveable wrecks are found close by.
Bannerfish A member of the butterflyfish family (above), sometimes called the antennafish. Often seen mid-water in groups. Do not confuse this species with the Moorish idol, which is found only in the southern part of the Red Sea.
Barracuda Impressive, predatory fish can often be seen in shoals in the northern Red Sea. These are blackfin barracuda. Larger, solitary great barracuda can be encountered further south.
Blue Hole A dive site near Dahab now gaining notoriety for frequent loss of life. The Blue Hole is an arch in the reef wall that makes a spectacular view for divers through to the open sea. Unfortunately the top of this arch is around 60m deep and divers who inadvertently go deeper often fall victim to oxygen toxicity.
Bluff Point A bay on the west side of the Gulf of Suez at Gubal Island. It is often used by liveaboards because it offers rare shelter from the prevailing northerly wind. It makes a good place for a night dive and you can see the wreck of a small barge and also a burnt-out dive boat which became victim to an over-enthusiastic barbecue! Other, larger wrecks lie nearby.
Brothers, The Not to be confused with the Seven Brothers, the two Brother Islands form a remote off-shore site east of El Quseir. The islands stand a mile apart and are subject to frequent and strong currents that are responsible for the prolific coral growth. The wreck of the freighter Aida can be found at Big Brother, but the Brothers are best known for steep wall-dives and encounters with pelagic species like the wandering oceanic white-tipped shark. There is little protection for vessels from the rough sea conditions that can often be experienced here.
Buoyancy Control A skill essential to both the well-being of delicate coral reefs and to the divers own safety when diving the dramatic walls of Egypt, the Sudan and the Gulf of Aqaba - where the water can be up to 900m deep!

C
Camp David The Camp David Agreement between Egypt and Israel put the Sinai back into Egyptian hands, made travel between the two countries easy and so boosted tourism to the levels we see in the region today.
Canyon, The A famous dive-site near Dahab, midway along the Egyptian coast of the Gulf of Aqaba. It forms a deep fissure in the reef that descends at 60 to depths beyond the limit for air diving. It has several openings to allow escape into open water. Intelligent divers enter through one of these at their chosen maximum depth and make their way back up the Canyon into shallow water.
ss Carnatic Originally known to divers as the Bottle Wreck, because of its cargo of Victorian mineral water, this is a P&O steam sailing ship from the late 19th century, wrecked at Shaab Abu Nuhas with some loss of life. It has a bowsprit and the traditional glazed transom of a ship of this era, and although it has now been pillaged of all its brass, the soft corals growing on its beams and spars make it a very pretty dive.
mv Cedar Pride The wreck of a freighter intentionally sunk in 1986 in comparatively shallow water at Aqaba. It makes a safe yet interesting dive, accessible from the shore and especially suitable for novice divers. Maximum depth is 30m.
mv Chrisoula K A modern freighter wrecked at Shaab Abu Nuhas that once sat with its bow protruding from the water. Recent wave action has now made this wreck unsafe for diving.
Clark An American, Dr Eugenie Clark is an internationally known shark expert and probably the individual most responsible for persuading the Egyptian government to set up the Ras Mohammed National Marine Park.
Cleaning Station Very common on Red Sea reefs, this is an area in which pairs of small wrasse take on the role of valet and stake out their territory. They pick parasites from client fish, while other fish await their services.
Clownfish These small yellow fish, adorned with a splash of blue, live in pairs and form a commensal relationship with anemones. Immune to the anemones sting, they feed from unwanted material left from the anemones victims, thus keeping their partner cleaned. They are common in the Red Sea.
mv Colona IV One of the first liveaboard dive boats to operate in the Red Sea, and very popular with British divers. She was the victim of an intense storm in 1995. Her steel hull now lies on the seabed outside Hurghada and at 75m deep it makes a challenging technical dive.
Coral Island The site of a Moorish castle built at the time of the Crusades, Coral Island is a popular day-trip by boat from Eilat or Taba and adds extra dive sites to the inventory of dive centres at those locations.
Corals Tiny animals that live in colonies and form amazingly complicated and diverse structures. It is not only the profusion of coral but the profusion of varieties of corals living in close proximity to each other that makes the reefs of the Red Sea so special.
Cornet fish A pipe-shaped fish up to 160cm long often seen hunting along the reef in flotillas, ready to dash in at great speed to grab unwary prey. Not to be confused with the trumpetfish, which is much stubbier in appearance.
Crinoids Feather stars and basket stars are invertebrate animals that come out on the reef to feed on plankton only at night. Shine a light at them and they recoil and retreat.
Crocodile fish Uncannily resembling a small crocodile, this is a docile animal that lies on the seabed awaiting the approach of its prey.

D
Daedalus Reef A submerged reef in southern Egypt marked by a lighthouse with a causeway. It provides almost virgin diving; it has sheer walls, beautiful coral growth and offers the opportunity to encounter the bigger pelagic animals.
Dahab A small Bedouin town and dive resort midway between the Israeli border and the point of the Sinai. Close by are the dive sites of the Canyon and the Blue Hole.
Dahlaks, The A group of islands off the coast of Eritrea on the Dahlak Bank. Diving here is shallow and visibility can often be disappointing. The coral zone rarely descends beneath 10 or 12m. Dehydration Desert air is dry and often hot. Divers also lose moisture from their bodies while breathing from aqualungs. Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of water - even if youre not thirsty.
Depth The deep, clear waters of the Red Sea can be seductive. Keep an attentive eye on your depth gauge or computer and never go deeper than you planned.
Djibouti A French colony in the horn of Africa where the Red Sea meets the Indian Ocean. Nearby are the Seven Brothers.
Dolphin A fun-loving mammal of which there are several species and countless numbers in the Red Sea.
Dolphin Reef A dive resort at Eilat which has an enclosed area of sea where it is possible to dive with semi-wild dolphins.
ss Dunraven A well-visited wreck near to Sharm el Sheikh at Beacon Rock, close to Shaab Mahmud. This was once thought to be a vessel used by Lawrence of Arabia. At about 30m deep it is an interesting experience to swim through its upturned hull, which is usually full of glassfish and lionfish. Its engine may be seen in Londons Science Museum.


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