Going Local in Sharm

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As our series of articles about diving in Sharm el Sheikh comes to a close, we finish by sharing the love for the local reefs in the area. Whilst the more famous dive-sites of the Strait of Tiran, Ras Mohammed and Thislegorm tend to steal the limelight a little, there is fabulous diving to be had just minutes from the jetty.

We tried to pack in as many dives as we could on our return to Sharm, and so always took up the offer of a third boat dive in the afternoon if we could. Whilst your morning dives might be further afield, these afternoon dives are often closer to home and take in the reef systems that hug this coastline.

The topography of the area lends itself to shallow dives, with a sandy sloping bottom, and coral pinnacles springing up from the seabed. These pinnacles provide a home to a myriad of marine life and we found ourselves, sometimes, spending most of the dive engrossed in the comings and goings on just a single bommie. At Near Garden, we found glassfish shoaling around a pink seafan, tiny pipefish hiding in the shadows and minute coral crabs, which kept Caroline, with her macro lens on, entertained for a good 30 minutes. There were blue-spotted stingray, angelfish and gorgeous corals for Nick to focus on in wide angle.

Fiddle Reef, which lies between Middle and Far – hence the name, saw Nick and Beth having fun, with Beth modelling for Nick as she peered through the many windows in the reef. The more slowly you go, the more you will see, with butterflyfish and parrotfish giving flashes of electric blue and various shades of yellow against the reds and purples of the soft corals.

Temple saw us spend the whole dive circling a single pinnacle, starting at the bottom and working our way, at snail’s pace, to the very top. Caroline was trying out the new LenzO iPhone housing and spent her time switching between video, panoramas, and photos with and without the filters applied, so this shallow dive was perfect for her. There is always plenty of light on these dives, making them perfect for the underwater photographer, and there is no need for artificial light.

Whilst we have written about the shore diving in Naama Bay during the day, there is, of course, always the opportunity to dive this site at night too. With such an easy entry, and being so close to Camel Dive Club, the shore dive here is perfect for night diving. You do have to watch out for lionfish, who eagerly rush over to any diver with a light to try to gain an advantage over its prey. Nick was testing a couple of UV lights on this dive to try to photograph the coral glowing in the dark. You will be able to see these dive light reviews on Scubaverse soon. Alas, somewhat contrary to what we thought would happen, the lionfish were still attracted by the blue light, and so Beth had to spend her time fending off lionfish, while Nick concentrated on photography. One of the highlights of the night dive was to see a Torpedo Ray hunting amongst the seagrass and sand.

One of the great things about basing yourself in Sharm for a diving trip is that you can choose to dive the Thistlegorm, have a day at Ras Mohammed, spend a couple of days diving the Strait of Tiran, and you can even do a day trip to Dahab to dive the Canyon and Blue Hole. But if you want a relaxed day of shallow diving, then the local dive sites have so much to offer, and they make the perfect way to round off your diving day after one of the longer boat rides too.

www.cameldive.com

www.egypt.travel/diving-in-egypt

For more from Nick and Caroline visit www.frogfishphotography.com.

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown are a husband and wife team of underwater photographers. Both have degrees in environmental biology from Manchester University, with Caroline also having a masters in animal behaviour. Nick is a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in underwater wildlife photography and he also has a masters in teaching. They are passionate about marine conservation and hope that their images can inspire people to look after the world's seas and oceans. Their Manchester-based company, Frogfish Photography, offers a wide range of services and advice. They offer tuition with their own tailor made course - the Complete Underwater Photography Award. The modules of the course have been written to complement the corresponding chapters in Nick's own book: Underwater Photography Art and Techniques. They also offer equipment sales and underwater photography trips in the UK and abroad. For more information visit www.frogfishphotography.com.

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