Red Sea A-Z S-Z


KEY : Marine Life Wrecks Dive sites or centres

S
Safaga Port Safaga is a fishing port 60km south of Hurghada. It has only recently been developed as a holiday resort and has fewer hotels than its bustling neighbour. The local reefs are less well-dived too, although it more or less shares the same offshore sites.
mv Salem Express When this ferry packed with pilgrims from Hurghada to Jeddah sank in a storm it represented the worlds worst maritime disaster. Although this happened only recently, some dive centres have, insensitively, been taking holiday-makers to dive on the wreck.
Sangeneb A great reef with lagoon, marked by a Sudanese lighthouse. In the lagoon you will find the wreck of the ill-fated mv White Elephant (Sadia III), while the outer reef is world-famous for shark encounters.
Scorpionfish and Stonefish Masters of disguise, once spotted these fish (above) are easily photographed because they do not need to use flight as a means of defence. They are highly poisonous!
Seven Brothers, The At the junction between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean stand the six (yes, six) islands called the Seven Brothers. Giant nudibranchs have been reported in this area.
Shaab Abu Nuhas A favourite destination with liveaboard dive boats from both Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh, this great circular reef has proved to be the graveyard of a number of wrecks, notably the ss Carnatic, the mv Giannis D and the mv Cresoula K.
Shaab AliAn area of the Gulf of Suez where important dive sites like Shag Rock and the wreck of the Thistlegorm can be found.
Shaab Mahmud An area west of Ras Mohammed that includes a wide expanse of water dotted with coral formations from the Alternatives to Beacon Rock.
Shaab Rumi The site of Cousteaus Conshelf 2 experiment in underwater living, Shaab Rumi is favoured by shark experts for feeding and for encounters with examples of all kinds, including silky sharks and silvertips. It has a lagoon that provides a safe anchorage, and the wreckage of Conshelf 2 can be found in 13m. Huge currents sweep across a plateau at one end of the reef and Cousteaus shark cage still lies here at 24m, where he left it. Modern-day divers sit on top of it to feed the grey reef sharks that frequent the area.
Shag Rock This wonderful elongated reef, swept by gentle currents, is close to the Sinai in the Straits of Gubal. There is a profusion of varieties of coral and it is a good place to encounter turtles feeding at night. The remains of two vessels are submerged on the reef. Why is it called Shag Rock Something to do with cormorants, of course!
Sharm el Sheikh The Egyptian port at the southern tip of the Sinai. Close to Naama Bay, it is developing into a resort in its own right.
Sharks Apart from reef sharks, no one can anticipate the arrival of pelagic species from the open sea. Silky sharks, named for their smooth skin, have been seen under the pier at Naama Bay, while divers were piling on to boats to go elsewhere to dive. Big silvertips are frequent visitors to the more remote reefs. Few people have been hurt in shark attacks but it does happen. This year a swimmer was badly injured while swimming with dolphins in open water away from the reefs. Tiger sharks are known to prey on schools of dolphin. However, there are millions of diver/shark encounters every year without mishap.
Shark Bay A Bedouin-owned resort close to Sharm el Sheikh. The dive immediately off the shore features a canyon.
Shark Observatory A promontory at Ras Mohammed with a high cliff that is exceeded in drama only by the sheer drop of the wall beneath the surface.
Shark Reef The wall of this reef affords the classic dive at Ras Mohammed. Start here and swim across the gap to Jolande Reef.
Sheikh Coast A new resort, architect-built from the sand up, close to Ras Nasrani.
Sinai The ancient Biblical land of Moses, this wilderness was at one time occupied by the Israelis but handed back to Egypt under the terms of the Camp David Agreement. Taba, Nuweiba, Dahab, Naama Bay and Sharm el Sheikh are all in the Sinai.
Soukh Traditional Arab market-place of towns like Hurghada.
Stingrays A wide variety frequent the Red Sea but the most particular to the area are the little blue-spotted rays often seen on the sand around the northern reefs. Then there are enormous black or thorny rays and pancake-like electric rays.
Suarkin Islands A remote archipelago in southern Sudan with deep walls, clear water and untouched dive sites that promise the best diving in the world - if you can get there! Dahrat Abit gave the writer the most spectacular diving experience of his life, with large silvertip sharks close to the reef wall dividing schools of hammerheads.
Surgeonfish So named because they are equipped with scalpel-sharp appendages near their tails. There are more than 30 varieties of this group of fish found in the Red Sea. They are sometimes known as doctorfish.

T
Taba The border between Israel and Egypt. Unimpeded access to Israel for those staying at the Taba Hilton in Egypt means they can get the benefits of both Eilat and the Egyptian reefs. Taba was once part of Israel.
Temple A dive-site near Sharm el Sheikh and Ras um Sid where liveaboards often spend the last night of a charter. With a maximum depth of around 25m and several tall pinnacles of coral, it makes a good night dive.
ss Thistlegorm An armed WW2 supply ship sunk by enemy action in 1941. Her wreck was first visited by Jacques Cousteau in the 1950s and then she lay forgotten until she was rediscovered in 1992. Her cargo of planes, trains, trucks, bren-gun carriers, motorcycles, rifles, ammunition and wellington boots was intact until visiting divers started to plunder her in 1993. Upright in 33m she is a dream wreck and still makes a good dive, as is evident from the large number of dive-boats that moor over her each day.
Tiran Tiran Island and the Straits of Tiran are positioned at the entrance from the Red Sea into the Gulf of Aqaba. Four reefs (Gordon, Jackson, Thomas and Woodhouse) are very popular dive sites and up to 100 dive boats visit each day from Naama Bay and Sharm el Sheikh. Despite damage caused by the grounding of a Cunard cruise liner in 1996, these reefs provide good diving, with a chance to see bigger animals in the currents between them.
Triggerfish A family of fish related to pufferfish and which have a trigger they use to jam themselves into crevices away from danger. The blue, Picasso and yellowtail triggerfish are common on the reef. Beware of the titan triggerfish. It enthusiastically guards its nest site and is known to attack divers fins. It has exceedingly large teeth! In the southern reaches of the Red Sea, large shoals of grey oceanic triggerfish are routinely seen swimming in open water.
Tower, The A steep wall-dive near Sharm el Sheikh that can be accessed easily from the shore.
Tropic of Cancer This northern boundary of the tropics passes through the Red Sea close by the border between Egypt and the Sudan.
Turtle Often seen feeding on soft corals, turtles are quite a common sight. Most are the hawksbill and loggerhead varieties. They breed on deserted beaches in the south.

U
Urchins Not to be confused with the small boys seen on the streets of Egyptian towns, most appear only at night. There are pencil and spiny urchins and the pincushion urchin, which has vibrant and beautiful colours but carries a virulent poison.
ss Umbria Said by Hans Hass to be the best shipwreck in the world, the ss Umbria, (previously called the Bahia Blanca) lies on her side at Wingate Reef outside Port Sudan. An Italian liner impounded by the British Navy the day before Italy declared war, she was scuttled intact by her crew. Her massive hull remains there, encapsulated in coral, but otherwise as perfect as the day she went down. Only the cargo of sacks of flour has deteriorated to reveal the 12,000 tonnes of bombs the Italians hoped to smuggle into Abyssinia. Visiting dive-boats tie off on her starboard lifeboat davits, which break the surface. Her propeller is intact and the deepest part of the vessel lies at 30m.

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Vaccinations It is recommended that all travellers be vaccinated against polio, hepatitis A and tetanus every ten years. You should also be vaccinated against typhoid every three years. These are free through the NHS. Those who go further south (to Eritrea) should consider vaccination against yellow fever. This is also effective for ten years.
Visas Check what visas you need before you go. If you are intending to leave a country (by liveaboard) and re-enter to fly back to Britain, you will need a multiple-entry visa. An Israeli stamp in your passport will deny you entry to many other countries in the Middle East (not including Egypt).

W
Water temperatures These can vary from near skin temperature (34C) in the southern Red Sea in the summer to chilly (18C) in the northern Red Sea in the winter.
Wetsuits If you are diving in the Yemen in midsummer you will need only a Lycra diveskin to protect you from the man-eating plankton. However, in the northern Red Sea in February many divers are happy to use membrane drysuits with medium-weight undergarments. A good semi-dry in two parts will usually allow you the flexibility to enjoy long dives in comfort wherever and whenever you are in the Red Sea.
Whale shark The largest fish in the sea, the whale shark feeds on plankton and tiny fish, which it captures by swimming along with its cavernous mouth open. They can be up to 18m long and any diver will tell you that the day he dived with one was the best day of his life! Often seen in the Red Sea, in summer months they sometimes congregate near Eilat and Aqaba at the end of the Gulf of Aqaba. Like manta rays, they often follow a plankton bloom.
Wind Bordered as it is by desert on all sides and with the extreme temperature fluctuations between day and night which that provides, the Red Sea is subject to strong winds. Away from the protection of the coastline, winds of Force 6-8 are almost normal and this makes for a violent and short sea. The Red Sea is not usually the millpond that travel agents would have us believe.

Y
Yemen An ancient Arabic kingdom, Yemen is the most southerly country bordering the east coast of the Red Sea. It has endured economic hardship after finding itself politically on the wrong side in the Gulf War. However, tourism is developing and the people are very friendly. Yemen is very mountainous, with fertile wadis and cities built inside the rock. The capital is Sana. There are regular Yemenia flights from London.

Z
Zabargad A major island astride the pre-1996 border between Egypt and the Sudan. Turtles nest on the beaches in late summer. Zabargad usually forms the southern limit for operations for vessels bearing Egyptian flags.
Zubayr An uninhabited black volcanic island belonging to the Yemen and situated close to the main shipping lanes from Aden to Suez. It is well-known for mantas.



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