Playing with wild dolphins

Let’s face it, Shaab El Erg is not the most beautiful or the most famous diving spot in the Red Sea. It is only one of the hundreds of reefs alike. This week we have had a few beginner divers in our group, so we had decided on this protected bay to be the site of the first dive. The 8-10m depth is perfect for a check dive.

Playing with wild dolphins in the egyptian Red Sea
After jumping into the water, the usual Red Sea marine life was waiting for us – tiny red fish near the reef, black and yellow angelfish in pairs and on the sea bottom, barbels were digging for food in the sand. Blue-spotted ray – check. Murena underneath the reef – check. We were about halfway into our dive when dolphins showed up unexpectedly. Their familiar whistles and the gentle easy with which they glided through the water took our breath away. They circled us a few times, took a closer look at us and then as quickly as they came, they disappeared. Once onboard, we were all excited to share our experiences with the dolphins. Can you imagine what an unforgettable joy it is for someone to meet with dolphins on their first ever dive in the sea!

On the following dive, two of the more advanced divers decided to explore the rest of the reef with underwater scooters. But they had to can the idea because as soon as they entered the water, the dolphins showed up again. They were behaving a bit odd, moving their heads up and down, swimming on their backs and taking a closer look at us but they were even more interested in the scooters. Once the divers had realised this, a happy game began to play out between them and the dolphins but let the video say it all:

I have been diving for more than 10 years and have almost 600 dives but I have never experienced anything this exciting! Don’t miss this place when you are in Egypt!

Text and video: Istvan Sulyok
Photo: Daniel Selmeczi

The Red Sea in summer

I am surrounded by sparkling sky-blue sea, softly caressing breeze, infinite tranquility and serene silence as I am sitting in front of the captain’s bridge. Meanwhile the large boat glides from one coral reef to another and I can hardly wait to dive! Until now I have been travelling to the Red Sea for safaris only in the spring and late fall when you could already use a sweater between dives and sometimes a hat too to warm your ears. But to enjoy the richest spectacle, I used to prefer these two periods.

Now, that I have also experienced a summer diving safari, I know this season cannot be missed either in Egypt! The sea is transparent and visibility can be well over 40-50m! From the bow I am gazing at the corals on the sea bottom and schools of fish startled by the noise of the engines. We arrive to the next dive site. We anchor and start getting ready for the dive. I can see the velvet blue rippling beneath me from the boat and the nearby reef glistening in emerald green and dark brown colours.

This time I leave my dive suit on the boat as only a pair of shorts will do in the 28-30-degree water. I cannot see any other boats in the area. And this continues on at almost every site during the week. We are in the Ras Mohamed National Park and getting ready to jump in at the Shark-Yolanda reef. In August at full moon red snapperfish, barracudas and batfish gather here into schools by the hundreds, getting ready to spawn. These gatherings provide an impressive sight!

Finally I am in the water and I can give myself over to weightlessness. Black pilotfish flash by me. I turn onto my back to see the sun rays breaking the water surface and as I begin to laugh, the bubbles escape from my regulator scaring away a small fish swimming above me. I turn towards the reef and suddenly an underwater fairy garden unfolds, made of shells and lacy corals in the shape of an “S”. I watch as a snail wearily begins its long journey on a rock and next to it a clownfish is playing among the purple-tipped tentacles of a poisonous anemone. It is just like a kid – I figure.

I notice a barracuda not far from the reef. Motionless it opens its teeth-filled mouth and moves as I move by it, frozen as a majestic statue. At the end of the dive I approach the boat and see a turtle rushing to the surface for air. I watch it holding back my breath.

As I reach the back of the boat, helping hands reach for me and the ever-ready crew take my fins. Summer is not only great because you can survive a holiday with one T-shirt a day but also because the days are a lot longer than in spring and fall. In the evenings, when the group gathers on the covered upper deck, the sea stands still in ink-blue silence, only a couple of strayed waves splash against the side of the boat and rock you gently like a cradle. The week seems to be passing a lot faster this time around. I ponder the idea of being able to spend a whole month at sea. And I will – at least another week. Next summer!

Text: Livia (Völgyesi) Hertelendy
Photos: Daniel Selmeczi