Cousteau’s favourite dive sites

Many dive sites close to Cousteau’s own heart had since become world-renowned. But which were the great explorer’s top 10 favourites?

  1. Shaab Rumi, Sudan
  2. Sipadan, Malaysia
  3. Cocos Island, Costa Rica
  4. Poor Knights Islands, New Zealand
  5. Aliwal Shoal, South Africa
  6. Vancouver Island, Canada
  7. Blue Hole, Belize
  8. Cozumel, Mexico
  9. Heron Island, Australia
  10. Richelieu Rock, Thailand

It is no surprise that Sudan’s Shaab Rumi made the list, after all, great experiences, and exciting work and discoveries connect him to this site. Marvellous diving and an Academy Award. Jacques Cousteau, also known as the father of scuba diving, not only loved diving in this region of the Red Sea, but he had made several discoveries as well.

Jacques Cousteau, or Captain Cousteau to many, was a world-famous marine explorer who dedicated his entire life to marine discoveries. His main fields of interest bore not only great significance to science, but they also raised the curiosity of the general public. He garnered absolute fame with his underwater experiments he conducted in the beginning of the 1960s. Can man live underwater for a prolonged period of time? As part of his Precontinent II experiment, he spent a month living underwater, which they documented in a film. The film, titled “World Without Sun”, was awarded the Oscar in the category of Best Documentary Feature. It says a lot that of all the seas in the world, he chose the Sudanese Red Sea for his experiment. Though to those who had been to Sudan before, this is a no-brainer. One thing is for certain – Captain Cousteau had definitely managed to place Sudan into the psyche of divers.

Anybody who had dived in Egypt before knows that the Red Sea is an amazing and excellent place for scuba diving. Yet, one cannot simply think that if they had dived in Egypt, they saw everything the Red Sea has to offer. Far from the truth, since the Sudanese Red Sea is exceptional and incomparable. While you dive in the same Red Sea in both countries, the two experiences could not be any different. In Egypt hundreds of liveaboards sail the waters, but in Sudan this number barely reaches ten. The result of which may be that during a liveaboard trip, you see no other boat in sight. Sudan hides the most gorgeous and most pristine coral reefs in the Red Sea that shelter an feed its entire marine life.

This is where you will find the Red Sea’s marine life at its most abundant. Sudan’s warm and crystal clear waters support over 400 species of corals, and over 1,500 species of fish, turtles, and sharks. Large fish live here in large numbers, many of which are rare and even endangered. Here you will always see barracudas, spotted rays, morays, and giant parrotfish, to name a few. The coastal waters of Sudan are also ranked among the top sites for shark lovers. You will encounter grey reef, silky, hammerhead, white-tip, and whale sharks in this region.

If you had a diving bucket list, what would you include? If Sudan is up there, then…

… you should know that the most ideal time for diving in Sudan is between February and May. During these months water temperatures are around 25-28C, and this is when the marine life is at its best and richest. Dive with us on one of our trips:

And now would be a good time to mention that you can visit more of Cousteau’s favourite sites with us, like Mexico (Socorro and Guadalupe).

We are happy to send you further details. Send your inquiries to: info@cassiopeiasafari.com

Thistlegorm

THE STORY OF THE SINKING:


thistlegorm2_HRIn May, 1941 the Thistlegorm was being loaded with war supplies in her home port of Glasgow. She was to carry huge amounts and a wide array of military cargo including land mines, shells, ammunition, weapons, trucks, armoured cars, motorcycles, trailers, vehicle and aircraft spare parts, radios, rubber boots and a whole lot more. There were also a couple of railway engines, tenders and water carriers for the Egyptian Railways. She joined a large convoy and headed for Alexandria.

The Axis Forces having occupied almost all of the northern Mediterranean coastline, the convoy followed the safer route to Alexandria which was via South Africa. After sailing north along Africa’s eastern coasts, the convoy arrived in the Red Sea.

When arriving at the entrance to the Gulf of Suez, Thistlegorm was assigned “safe anchorage” and was to wait for further information. They settled in to wait for clearance to proceed through the channel to Alexandria.

The length of wait was dependent on several factors such as aircraft activity, cargo priority and the time the vessels had been waiting already. Thanks to two vessels colliding in the gulf and virtually blocking the way through, Thistlegorm was forced to wait two weeks, standing idle.

German night-flying aircrafts were alerted to possible large-sized vessels in the Red Sea. On October 5, 1941 at about 11pm two aircrafts left their base in Crete and headed for the Egyptian coast. Their mission was to seek and destroy.

Just as their fuel levels were getting to a critical low and they thought their mission was fruitless, the Germans noticed a ship at anchor. One of the pilots dipped his plane low and approached the Thistlegorm, dropping his bombs right over the bridge. The bombs detonated the ammunition cargo and the explosion ripped the ship open.

The vessel began to sink quickly and the crew speedily abandoned the ship. The Thistlegorm sank at 1:30am on October 6, 1941. In all, 9 people lost their lives.

DIVING AT THE WRECK:

thistlegorm3The Thislegorm was initially discovered by the legendary Jacques-Yves Cousteau in 1956.  She sits on the seabed at 28m in an upright sailing position. The very top of the structure is only 12m from the water surface. She is one of the most sought-out wrecks in the world and with reason.

The holds are still laden with cargo. Divers can discover the tons of equipment such as jeeps, trucks, tires, motorcycles and alike and easily imagine the life onboard this awesome vessel. Around the vessel there also items that were ejected from the cargo hull following the tremendous explosion. There are tanks, towing equipment, boxed ammunition and weapons.

Access is easy through the blasted-out bridge area. The crumpled decking folding out as an open tin can is still as it had been after the explosion. The image tells of a devastating event. Vehicles are parked in the hold as if waiting to be unloaded. On the starboard side besides the vehicles, other items can be found like small arms and weapons. On the stern two deck-mounted guns are still in place and are best viewed from below.

Usually there is a current but it can get quite strong coming in from the north. Groupers, jackfish, tuna and the occasional black-tip shark are just a few of the larger marine life visiting this place. The usual reef fish and creatures are also present and provide a nice distraction from the wreck.