The reefs of the Strait of Tiran are some of the regular dive sites for anyone diving out of Sharm el Sheikh, and during our 8 days diving with Camel Dive Club, we got to visit these reefs on three occasions. The four main reefs here are named after the British cartographers who first mapped the region: Jackson, Woodhouse, Thomas and Gordon. It is about an hour from Naama Bay by boat and offers some pretty spectacular diving. The reef system is instantly recognisable from the boat, due to a wreck that stands up on top of the reef, slowly rusting away over the years.
Everyone has their own particular favourite dive site here, with Jackson Reef probably the most popular, but we found that on any given day, each of these sites had something different to offer. Both Jackson and Thomas have huge pink sea fans, with the most impressive on Thomas at around 24 metres. Many of the sea fans, on both of these reefs, were so vast that it took two of us to properly light them up using our INON strobes, without the sensor covers, so they would fire remotely. We spent one dive on Thomas, simply focussing on just photographing these amazingly healthy sea fans. On Jackson Reef we spent a whole dive at around 5metres, marvelling at the colours and reflections of the corals near the surface. We were also lucky enough to encounter a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins, underwater! We had just got back onto the boat when the cry of “dolphins” came out. They were close to the reef, so we put on our masks, fins and snorkels, grabbed our cameras and headed out to join them. They did not let us get too close, perhaps because they had a baby with them, but they certainly put on a show, waving their tails in the air, in a sort of “reverse spy-hop”.
These reef systems can be milk-pond calm or they can have mild to strong currents, depending on where you are on the system. So it is that on some days you can drift along admiring the colourful corals and on others, you can slow down and find the small critters and marine life that inhabit the crevices on the walls and pinnacles. Gordon Reef is packed with wildlife and has a series of old drums, the cargo of a shipwreck, which offer hideouts for fish and other sea dwellers. We found Spanish dancer eggs, but alas none of these fabled creatures themselves. Woodhouse lies between Thomas and Jackson and is a narrow and long reef that is best done as a drift dive, with or without current. The visibility is incredible here and you can practically see all along the wall, including down in the deep where impressive black gorgonians can be found. Look out into the blue and you have a decent chance of spotting sharks and rays.
Nearby is the wreck of the Million Hope. We had got our hopes up (all one million of them) that we would be able to dive this amazing wreck site, but the weather has to be on its best behaviour. We had planned our dive, and the captain maneuvered the boat around, but the swells were just too big. We will just have to come back another time to dive what is considered to be one of the best wreck dives in the whole of Egypt.
For more from Nick and Caroline visit www.frogfishphotography.com.