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.
Save the Manatee Club launches brand new webcams at Silver Springs State Park, Florida
Save the Manatee® Club has launched a brand-new set of underwater and above-water webcams at Silver Springs State Park in Ocala, FL. These new cameras add to our existing cameras at Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Florida, and Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, in Homosassa, Florida, which are viewed by millions of people worldwide. The cameras are a collaboration between Save the Manatee Club, Explore.org, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, who made the new live streaming collaboration possible via support of their interpretative program.
The above-water camera is a stationary pan/tilt/zoom camera that will show manatees and other wildlife from above water, while the new underwater camera provides the viewer with a brand new, exciting 180-degree viewing experience. Viewers can move the cameras around, trying to spot various fish and manatees.
The Silver River, which originates at Silver Springs, provides important habitat for manatees and many other species of wildlife. Over recent years, more manatees have been seen utilizing the Silver and Ocklawaha rivers. “The webcams provide a wonderful entertainment and educational tool to the general public, but they also help us with the manatee research,” says Patrick Rose, Executive Director of Save the Manatee Club. “We have learned so much through observing manatees on our existing webcams, and the new cameras at Silver Spring can add to the existing manatee photo-ID research conducted in this area, as well as highlighting Silver Springs and the Silver River as an important natural habitat for manatees.”
The webcams are streaming live during the daytime, with highlights playing at night, and can be viewed on Explore.org and on Save the Manatee Club’s website at ManaTV.org.
Save the Manatee Club, established in 1981 by the late renowned singer-songwriter, author, and entrepreneur Jimmy Buffett, along with former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham, is dedicated to safeguarding manatees and preserving their aquatic habitat. For more information about manatees and the Club’s efforts, visit savethemanatee.org or call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646).
Dive Worldwide introduces three new resorts ahead of Go Diving Show
Ahead of Go Diving (2-3 March, Stoneleigh Park), the leading scuba diving exhibition that marks the start of the dive season, Dive Worldwide has introduced three new resorts, each one set in a world class diving location. Among them is Coral Eye Resort in Indonesia, an eco-friendly island retreat with a welcoming community vibe where like-minded people get excited about the marine world and all its wonders.
Dive Worldwide has the largest programme in the UK of tailor-made and small group liveaboard and resort-based diving holidays to over 200 destinations worldwide, catering for beginners and experienced divers alike.
Founded as an outpost for marine studies, Coral Eye is a boutique resort on Bangka Island, east of Sumatra, which has been transformed into a diver’s paradise. Today Coral Eye, set in the heart of the Coral Triangle, attracts a community of visitors who share a passion for the sea. Its eco-friendly villas are designed to blend seamlessly into the natural surroundings.
From Coral Eye and the Coral Eye Dive Centre, it is possible to discover more than 30 world-class dive sites– each within 40 minutes of the beachfront dive centre – along with the fascinating volcanic topography and varied marine life around Bangka Island in North Sulawesi. From the beautiful house reef to steep coral-covered pinnacles, charming critters, turtles, and abundant reef fish, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Dives, up to four per day, are guided in groups of four by local guides with a wealth of experience and keen eyes.
Price: 9 nights at Coral Eye Resort from £2,775pp based on 2 sharing including Full board, transfer, 10 dives, tanks and weights
This resort is an oceanfront haven where luxury meets adventure. Against a backdrop of lush greenery and a white sand coast in Playa del Carmen, The Fives Beach Hotel’s location in Riviera Maya provides access to a plethora of renowned dive sites, including the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef and the world-famous Cenotes. Within the resort is The Fives Dive Centre with its range of SSI courses, from beginner to advanced. Guests can dive with eagle rays and look for a splendid toadfish in Cozumel. Puerto Morelos has such a cool vibe above the water, but below the surface the National Park is also the best the Caribbean has to offer.
With a diverse range of accommodation, choose from stylish rooms with balconies to vibrant suites and oceanfront residences providing more privacy and a panorama of the Caribbean Sea. Beyond diving, guests can indulge in the hotel’s array of restaurants, relax with a cocktail by one of the hotel’s seven outdoor pools, explore the vibrant local culture at the nearby Mayan ruins or enjoy the hotel’s numerous cultural offerings.
Price: 7 nights at The Fives Beach Hotel and Residences costs from £3,145pp based on 2 sharing, all inclusive, including 8 ocean dives and 2 cenotes dives, tanks, weights and transfers
Located in Puerto Aventuras, these stylish marina and lagoon view apartments, each with tasteful Caribbean interiors, are the perfect location for an ocean and Cenotes diving adventure. The 19 marina apartments offer views over the marina, while eight luxury lagoon apartments overlook a private bay in the lagoon and benefit from a small private beach and a swimming pool.
Diving the magical caves and passages of the world-famous Cenotes in Mexico is conducted with Maya Blue Dive Centre while ocean dives are provided through a local dive centre. The Mesoamerican reef system along the Riviera Maya is home to colourful coral gardens and marine life aplenty, providing an exciting and varied week of diving experiences including plenty of hawksbill turtle encounters. Travel between June and September and add in a snorkelling trip to see the incredible gathering of whale sharks around Holbox Island or Isla Mujeres.
For further information visit Dive Worldwide (diveworldwide.com, 01962 302087).
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