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

Breathtaking images from Sudan!

This week we have received not only good news and breathtaking images from Sudan but a fresh, hot-of-the-press video surprise … off the back of a bird. Yes, you heard it right!

We had a “helicopter” with us for a couple of weeks that had already taken gorgeous aerial photos of Shaab Jumna and Umbria. You can watch one of the videos here.

The spawning season of the brown-marbled groupers has begun at Shaab Rumi and Sanganeb and as a result, the plateau is swarming with 50-80 groupers all about 50-80cm long.

spawning season of the brown-marbled groupersWe ran into an old buddy at Shaab Rumi again we have been seeing every year for the past 3 years – an enormous weatherworn barracuda. He is especially friendly this year and lets himself to be photographed even from a few centimetres. Voila!

barracuda in SudanAbout 10 grey reef sharks monitor Shaab Rumi, we saw 5 hammerheads in the deep blue and the plateau is truly alive. We have managed to run into a 20-member hammerhead school at Sanganeb and on the south plateau into 2-3 grey reefs and a quite lively marine life, all this matched by excellent visibility.

Sanganeb reef in Sudan
Tip of the week:
What kind of wet suit to bring to Sudan?
In May and June most divers can do with a shorty. Between February and April you are normally good with a 3 or 5mm long suit.

This is where we were this week:

Dive sites in Sudan
OUR LAST-MINUTE OFFER
May 5-12, 2014 *** M/Y Andromeda ***
Book by April 30, 2014 over the phone or in e-mail!

If you wish to know more about how to dive in Sudan, click here!
Magyar nyelven: www.redseaboats.hu/szudan/
In English: www.sudan-diving.com
По-русски: www.sudan-diving.ru

Rosalie Moller

THE STORY OF THE SINKING:

egyipt_wrecks_rosalie_möller_3By the late 1930s the war was inevitable. British ship owners faced the possibility of either continuing the operations of their vessels and possibly experience serious financial losses if their vessels were to become casualties of war, which was not covered by most insurance companies, or recalling their vessels back to England to aid the war effort. The Rosalie Moller returned to Liverpool by 1940 and was transporting Welsh coal to various Royal Navy ports in England and sometimes as far as Gibraltar.
The Royal Navy’s “Force K” was operating out of Malta under constant siege by the Axis Forces, making it impossible for merchant ships to get anywhere close to the shores without being attacked and destroyed. Therefore the Navy needed re-fuelling facilities in Gibraltar and in Alexandria. Rosalie Moller’s next and final assignment was to deliver over 4,500 tons of coal to Alexandria. Because the Mediterranean was a hot bed for active war fighting, she was to sail around Africa and up the east coast.
The loss of the ship
She got her orders in July, 1941 and by mid-September she was travelling up the Red Sea. When reaching the Gulf of Suez, she was assigned “Safe Anchorage H” to await further instructions. The anchor was dropped, the engines were shut off and the wait began. There was a collision of vessels in the Suez Bay which blocked the entrance to the canal. The Thistlegorm was unable to enter the canal because of the same reason before being destroyed on October 6, 1941.
On October 7, 1941 two more twin-engine Heinkels returned to continue to bombard the vessels anchored in the gulf. The captain and the crew awoke to the loud engine noise of the planes. The aircrafts descended for a low-level attack and dropped their bombs. Two bombs were dropped, one striking the number 3 hold. The Rosalie Moller sank on October 8, 1941 at 01:40 with two of her crew missing.

DIVING AT THE WRECK:

egyipt_wrecks_rosalie_möller_6The wreck lies in an upright position on an even keel on the seabed. The bows are at 39m and the starboard anchor is deployed. Most of the wreck is in very good condition, many of her parts still remaining undamaged. On the upper deck the winches and the winch houses are all intact. The cargo hatches are gone but the cargo of coal still lies in the holds. The galley also managed to stay quite intact with pots and pans still hanging above a large stove. The wooden decks have rotted away but the port holes and the glass in them are all undamaged.
The funnel is still standing, leaning a tad and on the leading side there is a small ladder leading up to the copper steam whistle. The front and rear masts are still in place. The steering gear can be investigated along with the rudder which is at 45m. One of the four propeller blades is missing. There is damage to the rear quarters but the actual damage caused by the bombs that sank the ship is hardly visible.
Visibility is not as clear as in other parts of the Red Sea but the wreck teems with abundant fish and coral life. Corals cover the decks and railings and jackfish and tuna can be seen feeding in the morning hours.

Credit:

www.shipwrecksofegypt.com, www.wrecksite.eu , www.taucher.net, www.shipwrecksofegypt.com

Salem Express

THE STORY OF THE SINKING:

egypt_wreck_salem_15

“Salem Express”, an Egyptian ferry, left the port of Jeddah on December 16, 1991, carrying hundreds of passengers, mostly pilgrims, and vehicles. Based in Port Safaga, she used to provide ferry services between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

As night fell, the weather turned extremely windy. Trying to ease the substantial discomfort of the passengers, the captain navigated the boat northward close to the shore, reaching the area between the shore and the Hyndman Reefs by midnight, a treacherous route even in calm weather. They were only about 10km from their destination of Port Safaga. It was impossible to see the reefs ahead and the boat struck one of the southern reefs.

The impact created a huge rip, about 10m long, in the forward hull and opened the hatch to the car deck, allowing tremendous amounts of water to rush into the vessel through not one but two entry points. It took only 20 minutes for the ferry to give in and sink. There was no time to even deploy the life rafts. Many people perished while others tried to swim to safety in the brutal weather. What helped was that the currents were actually carrying them toward the shore. From the 650 persons (official record), 180 survived. The captain, who could have provided answers as to what had really happened, lost his life along with most of the passengers.
Efforts were made to remove the remaining bodies from the wreckage but once the operation had become too dangerous, the wreck was sealed by the navy from further entry. To this day, dive guides do not permit divers to enter the wreck as it is considered to be a cemetery of sort.

DIVING AT THE WRECK:


egypt_wreck_salemIn size she almost mirrors the Thistlegorm and she is one of the larger wrecks in the Egyptian Red Sea. She rests at about 30m on the seabed on her starboard side. It is easy to swim around the large wreck and investigate the superstructure. The infamous hatch to the car deck still lies open as if waiting to load and unload vehicles.

The upper port side of the wreck is at about 10m. Many doors are visible that used to allow entry to the inside which are now sealed. There is a chance to look inside the wreck through the windows of the bridge though there is not much to see as all moveable items had fallen onto the starboard side, which is now the bottom. The portside propeller is an awesome sight. It has not been colonised yet by the usual sea organisms one can find on older wrecks. However the starboard propeller, under the hull, has become home to beautiful red corals.
The dive is more exciting over the railings, on the port side. The main deck is in very good condition and it provides an impressive view, especially in the morning light of the sun. When swimming down the starboard side into the deeper waters, a few life boats are visible on the seabed, still attached to the boat by ropes. From here the two huge funnels, connected by a stabiliser, are also visible with their large “S” marks.
The aft deck, where deck passengers were stationed, used to be shaded from the sun by corrugated iron roofing the remains of which now lie scattered on the seabed.
The wreck is already covered by beautiful hard corals and is home to a large colony of fish. Shoals of sweet lips swim around the stern section keeping company with angelfish, butterfly fish and goatfish. In the sand blue-spotted stingrays slither around.