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The Ras Mohammed peninsula separates the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba. Currents flow out of both gulfs and bathe Ras Mohammed in rich nutrients, which assures a plentiful and varied marine life. At Shark Reef and Yolanda wreck, many fish species can be found: groupers, barracuda, batfish, Napoleon wrasses, blue-spot stingrays and a special treat, crocodile fish!
It is also known to attract some of the bigger fish that come to the Sharm region, Black tip oceanic sharks, the occasional manta and even Tiger sharks have been spotted. Yolanda sank with a cargo of bathtubs and toilets. It´s an amusing and memorable site to see groupers swimming around a huge mountain of toilets at the bottom of the sea.
The Straits of Tiran
The Straits of Tiran rank among the finest attractions of the Red Sea thanks to their crucial historical and geographical importance, their distinctive topography and, of course, their first-rate diving sites. The straits are formed by the island of Tiran to the east, and the Sinai coastline to the west.
The confluence of deep waters, continental plate, and narrow passage creates a bottleneck through which a strong, dense flow of plankton is funneled to the coral reefs associated with these mountain peaks.
A food chain is set in motion which links the plankton, coral organisms and reef fish to the ever ravenous sharks which find easy pickings here. Indeed, this is one spot where it is still possible to encounter sharks on virtually every dive.
The most southerly reef of the four has a different topography from the others. This site has both a shallow plateau area and drop offs, and can be done as a mooring or a drift dive. On the northern edge of the reef is the remains of the wreck Lovilla which has been on top of the reef for a long time. It only remains there by habit as most of the hull has corroded away .
The current on the south edge of Gordon is rarely strong but be aware for it as it can cut across the plateau.
The boats moor up on the southern plateau in about 8m of water. The dives are usually conducted from the mooring and heading in a easterly direction to the drop off which starts at about 16m (worth keeping an eye out into the blue here!).
From the drop off heading North following the edge is a small garden eel area along with coral encrusted drums. At the turn round point of the dive plan you ascend to about 8m and follow the reef back to the boat on the plateau area.
If this is done as a drift dive the boat drops you at the mooring and will pick up on the northern edge. This follows the same area as a mooring dive but then continues along the drop off which turns more into a plateau as it reaches the corner. This is a regular for the sharks and can be a very high speed drift.
This is the smallest reef in the Straits, but also one of the most popular. The dive is governed by the weather conditions as the western side is often impossible to pick divers up from. The dive is done as a drift dive with potentially strong currents on the southern and northern ends of the reef. The ends are vertical walls with a large plateau at about 25m on the south eastern side.
This plateau often has sleeping sharks on the sand patches and the coral has a fence of Gorgonia fans at the end. After the Gorgonia fans the reef returns to a wall before coming to the corner of the reef, watch the currents. If conditions allow it is possible to go round to the other side of the reef, which is a wall disappearing into the deep.
This is the longest reef of the four in the Straits of Tiran and is dived as a drift dive usually from South to North.
At the southern part of the reef is a wall to about 30m. It is worth looking on to the sand patches below to try and spot sleeping sharks. The coral covers all the way from the surface down the wall which becomes more of a slope as the dive progresses. Half way through the dive there is a canyon going along the reef at about 25m which spreads out into a coral garden with sand alleys. This is usually where the current starts to pick up.
If the conditions on the west side of the reef are rough the dive has to be ended at the end of the coral garden, which is usually reached after about 50 minutes.
If weather conditions allow it is sometimes possible to continue the dive beyond this point. Where the reef leaves the surface and funnels down towards Jackson Reef. This area is referred to as the washing machine due to the very strong currents going in all directions.
This is the most northerly reef in the Straits of Tiran. The dives are usually conducted from the moorings on the south side which is sheltered from the main swell and currents. The boats moor up in a lull spot of the current where the wall is around 40m.
After descending down the wall to your planned depth the dive is to the south western corner, keeping the reef on the right. Towards the corner the reef levels out to a gentle slope from about 6m with the corals in this area being some of the best in the area. It is around here that the current can pick up.
On the way back, which is done in shallow water, there are many inlets into the reef which are full of soft corals, making an excellent place to conduct the safety stop.
This site can also be done as a drift dive heading from the mooring towards the East with the reef on the left where it is mostly wall diving with excellent corals. This can get to be a high speed drift!