Dahrak Abid, the southernmost reef in the Sudanese Red Sea, lies 220km south of Port Sudan. The Eritrean border is only 30km from here. A populous bird colony lives undisturbed on this flat, 500m-long island. The reef can be easily identified by the wreck that lies on the north side of the island. There is not much information about the wreck but there is a lifeboat close to it named Aris Pireus.
Unlucky for divers, there is nothing to see of the wreck under the water surface. The reef completely surrounds the island. It has no plateau but it does have a balcony-like projection that is dreamy. While the group jumps out of the zodiac where the terrace begins and everybody is still busy adjusting their diving and camera gear, a smaller group of barracudas already show up. Then we look out into the blue and we cannot believe our eyes – a huge school of hammerheads! We count about 50 of them between 15 and 30 metres. This specie is quite shy and as we begin to approach them, they slowly disappear into the blue.
We return to the wall where soft corals blanket the side of the reef at about 20m, ranging from white, through pink all the way to deep red in colour. The reef’s biodiversity is amazing, pulsing with life on every square centimetre. Young white-spotted reef sharks rest in the little sandy crevices after a night of hunting.
A few metres from the wall in deeper waters a sizeable grey reef shark watches over the safety of the reef. As we ascend to about 5m, the reef begins with an unbelievable view even while we do our safety stop. But before leaving the deep for good, 3 young silky sharks appear, as if bidding us good-bye. They are easy to recognise from their sleek, streamlined bodies and long, rounded snouts. They are very curious, checking out divers from close, to the delight of photographers.
Sha’ab Claudia (sometimes known as Sha’ab Claude) is a small reef with lots of disturbed water at the surface and can have quite large swells in the top 5m of water. The west side of the reef has lovely hard coral formations, with stony and boulder corals cascading down to 20m like an underwater waterfall. Current will normally run from north to south and live aboards usually moor on the more sheltered south side, although surface conditions can still be rocky on the boat.
Location: Egypt / Marsa Alam / Fury Shoals
Description: Reef / Coral garden / Caves
Depths: 12 – 24 meters
There are some reef fragments to the west which also have great hard coral, and yet more reef pieces to the south. Although the southern pieces are sparser in terms of coral growth there is some nice small marine life and in the top 5 metres the reef is densely populated with antheas.
Abu Hashish is the island at the centre of a wide bay, 90 minutes South of Hurghada/Egypt. The island was once used as a drop-off point for smugglers bringing hash into the country. A tongue of reef extends about 1 kilometre South of the island. The dive site is at its Southernmost tip. There is a shelf between 15 and 22 metres outside and beyond that a steep but fairly bare drop-off, usually with superb visibility. Inside the tongue of reef is a scattering of long ergs.
Location: Red Sea / Egypt / Hurghada
Description: Reef with coral garden
Depths: 18 meters
Rough seas often make this site inaccessible from Hurghada, although the site itself is well protected. Current is mainly North to South and strongest along the drop-off.
Scuba divers leave the lagoon through an obvious channel filled with table corals, cross the shelf to the drop-off and follow it North. There are some beautiful caves in the 30-metre region. They return along the inside of the shelf and finish the dive back on the lagoon amongst the ergs.
Along the drop-off pelagics, such as jackfish, barracuda, Spanish mackerel, whitetip sharks and now and then, hammerhead sharks and feathertail rays may be seen. On the shelf turtles, bluespotted rays, Spanish dancers, morays, lunartail and leopard groupers live while in the lagoon schools of squid and baby barracuda play.