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Post-COVID diving in Sharm el Sheikh: what do the reefs look like after four months with no divers or boats?

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For the first time in four months, I descended beneath the surface at the local area dive site Temple, Sharm el Sheikh.

Finally!

It was a little strange at first; the silence, the equalizing and being weightless once more but after around 30 seconds, it felt good to be in the place that I call home, beneath the rippling waters of the Red Sea.

On 9th July 2020 at 16:00 hours, our home for the next 2 nights, liveaboard South Moon (Sea Queen Fleet) departed Travco marina for two and a half days diving. It was the first safari boat to leave on charter from Sharm since the COVID pandemic started. On board were the Crew, guide Valeria, Sea Queen Operations Manager Doro, and ten overly emotional multinational residents of Sharm el Sheikh. Despite the crazy number of dives held (many were instructors) and the combined number of years diving (exceeding 200 years between us), the excitement onboard was unprecedented (to use a phrase from this pandemic in a positive light).

Photo: Thomas Hartwell

This was to be a trip of a lifetime. To dive Ras Mohamed National Park after four months, where even the sea was locked down. What would we see? Would there be an improvement? Sharks everywhere?

Firstly, after paperwork and briefings that included all the necessary COVID rules and regulations, we decided on a check dive in the local area just to test our gear and make sure that we remembered how to dive. The dive was amazing. It was so nice to see many of the Red Sea usual suspects. My buddy, Doro and I both wondered if some of the fish had perhaps even seen a diver before as one moray eel was quite a small juvenile and seemed a little confused by our presence.

After the dive, it was time for dinner. Chef Fathi provided us with a tasty meal including vegetarian options in a socially distanced manner. With bellies full, it was time for bed as we planned to be in the water at six the following morning.

Most of us were awake at five, sipping coffee and having a cookie or four. Briefing done it was off to dive one of the top ten dive sites in the world, Shark & Yolanda reef.

We entered the water at Shark reef and there was an explosion of fish. Shark reef is very well known for its large schools of fish in the summer months, but this outdid anything that I have ever seen before. We were met by huge schools of snapper, jackfish, unicorn fish and batfish. With just enough current to move us along, we headed to Yolanda reef. The coral garden here is always fabulous but again, it seemed better and more vibrant than ever before especially when there was a large school of juvenile parrot fish escorting us.

Photo: Yuliya Honcharskaya & Gyorgy Pall

All too quickly, we reached our one-hour maximum dive time and it was time to surface. There was nothing else for it, we would have to dive Shark and Yolanda reef again. During the trip we dived this unique reef five times consecutively, we just could not get enough. Sightings on the following dives included: barracuda, shark size tuna, mating feathertail stingrays, eagle rays, turtles, huge napoleon wrasse in addition to the large schools that we enjoyed on every single dive.

There was only one dive left for this trip, so where did we want to dive? To be very honest we were a little torn and very much wanted to dive Shark and Yolanda reef again, but we were still a little curious as to what the other reefs were like. In the end, it was decided that we would complete our final dive at Jackfish Alley.

Photo: Yuliya Honcharskaya & Gyorgy Pall

WOW! It is quite difficult to put into words how amazing this dive was. We skipped the caves as we wanted to spend more time on the plateau where the life was likely to be and we certainly did not regret our decision. As we descended, we were welcomed by a large school of juvenile parrot fish (even larger than the school on Yolanda reef). Drifting along the plateau we swam with at least twenty separate schools of different types of jackfish; from African Pompano (one of my favourites as I think they look like teddy bears) to Giant Trevally which look like they should be related to dinosaurs with their armor-plated scales. I know that it is a cliché, but it was like swimming in an aquarium. Again, it was time for another safety stop and to end the last dive of the trip.

Photo: Yuliya Honcharskaya & Gyorgy Pall

We headed back to Travco marina with memories that will last a lifetime and feelings of gratitude that will get us through the upcoming months.

Back in my home office today, I was more motivated than ever to prepare Anthias Divers for our upcoming COVID safety inspection which will allow us to reopen soon and in turn show more land based divers the fabulous dives that we have to offer here in Sharm el Sheikh.

I would like to say a massive thank you to Doro, Valeria, the crew of South Moon, and all my fellow divers onboard for a fabulous time. Safety was paramount during the entire trip but did not hinder the enjoyment at all.  I don’t think that this trip is something that I will ever forget.


Interested in completing a northern itinerary liveaboard in Sharm el Sheikh? Email contact@seaqueens.com or visit their website www.seaqueens.com for more information.

Also, don’t forget to follow Anthias Divers Facebook page for updates on when the friendliest dive centre in town will be open for land-based trips.

www.anthiasdivers.com

Beth "my lovelies" Sanders achieved her PADI Open Water in her native Wales and became completely addicted to the underwater world. Her fixation has cost her jobs, boyfriends and a whole load of other 'respectable' things so finally she had to make the diving pay! Becoming a Scuba Instructor was the only option... Beth was very lucky to combine this with her love of warm weather and has lived in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt since 2007. After joining the team at Anthias Divers as General Manager, Beth can usually be found chatting with guests and even occasionally underwater!

Competitions

WIN a Beuchat Air Light Bag!!!

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For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at Beuchat to give away an Air Light Bag!

The Air Light Bag from Beuchat is a practical travel bag that takes up minimum storage space.

  • Material: 600 denier and 1,000 denier nylon/PVC
  • Soft roller bag, easily stored in its mesh bag
  • Internal retaining straps
  • Zip fastener with eyelets for padlocks
  • Side compartment for fins
  • Outer document pocket with coated zip and carry strap
  • Backpack style straps concealed behind the foam back-plate
  • Drainage vents
  • Red over-moulded wheels; detachable wheel block

To be in with a chance of winning this awesome prize, all you have to do is answer the following question:

In a recent post on Scubaverse.com (which you can read here), we reported that the Philippines have been recognised as the World’s Leading Dive Destination at the 27th World Travel Awards. In the article it states how many islands make up the Philippines… how many are there?

Is there:

  • A) 7,209
  • B) 7,532
  • C) 7,641

Answer, A, B or C to the question above:

Beuchat Air Light Bag December 2020

Competition
  • Enter the country you live in
  • Terms and Conditions: This competition is open to all visitors to www.scubaverse.com except for members of the Scubaverse team and their families, or employees of Beuchat and their families. A valid answer to the competition’s question must be entered. If no valid answer to the competition’s question is entered, your entry will be invalid. Only one competition entry per entrant permitted (multiple entries will lead to disqualification). Only one prize per winner. All prizes are non-transferable, and no cash alternative will be offered. In the event that the prize cannot be supplied, no liability will be attached to www.scubaverse.com. When prizes are supplied by third parties, www.scubaverse.com is acting as their agents and as such we exclude all liability for loss or damage you may suffer as a result of this competition. This competition closes on 13/01/21. The winner will be notified by email. The Editor-in-Chief’s decision is final.

  • The following fields are optional, however if you fill them in it will help us to determine what prizes to source in the future.

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
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Gear News

Quick Scuba Tips #1: How To Prep A New Mask for Scuba Diving (Watch Video)

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How To Prep A New Mask for Scuba Diving. Can’t I just take my new mask diving straight out of the box? Well, actually, no. It needs a little work to make it dive ready.

In this, the first in our new scuba diving quick hints and tips series, I’m going to show you how to prepare a new mask for scuba diving with three quick techniques, all aimed at stopping your scuba mask from fogging.

Yes, this link is an affiliate link. Purchases made through these links may earn me a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Dive safe, dive often!

James


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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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