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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. Currently operating as a freelance dive instructor and environmental tourism consultant, Beth can usually be found chatting with guests and even occasionally underwater!

Competitions

WIN a Beuchat Air Light Bag!!!

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beuchat-logo-1-300x58.jpgFor 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 Mexico is to host the first annual Cancun International Boat Show and Marine Expo this year. But when is the event due to take place?

Is it:

  • A) 9th – 11th July
  • B) 16th – 18th July
  • C) 23rd – 25th July

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

Beuchat Air Light Bag February 2021

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 or employees of Suunto Diving UK 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 07/04/21. 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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Miscellaneous Blogs

Jeff chats to… Jill Heinerth – underwater explorer, author and presenter (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Jill Heinerth.

Jill is one of the world’s premier underwater explorers, and the first person to dive inside iceberg caves. According to filmmaker James Cameron, “More people have walked on the moon than have been to some of the places Jill Heinerth has gone right here on earth.”

An acclaimed polar explorer, cave diver, author, speaker, filmmaker, and climate advocate, Jill is the first Explorer-in-Residence of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. She is the inaugural recipient of the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration and Canada’s Polar Medal.

Jill leads expeditions into extreme environments to advance scientific and geographic knowledge. Her projects have been broadcast on the CBC, BBC, PBS, Discovery Channel, and television networks worldwide. Jill was announced as the recipient of the William Beebe Award from the Explorer’s Club and was inducted into the International Scuba Divers Hall of Fame in fall 2020.

Her bestselling book INTO THE PLANET – My Life as a Cave Diver  has drawn acclaim from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, and O Magazine. Heinerth details her journey into the extreme world of underwater cave exploration, where she has had to overcome fear in order to go where no one has gone before.

Find out more about Jill and her work at: www.intotheplanet.com


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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Competitions

Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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