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Diving - Sharm El Shiekh - Straits of Tiran

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Gordon Reef

Facts about dive:
Like Jackson to the north, this reef is marked by the wreck of a large commercial freighter; at the southern end of the reef, there is also a light beacon to keep other ships off the reef. A permanent mooring point lies just offshore near the light. The dive site encompasses a wide, oval sloping patchy reef which extends to the south and east of the shallow circular reeftop, rather like the sloping brim of a baseball cap. The reef composition is quite varied, with patchy sections, sand beds and ful-fledged coral gardens. In the centre of the reef slope, a 'shark amphitheatre' or bowl dips to 24m; a variety of shark species can be seen sleeping on the sandy bottom.

The site boasts a very good range of corals, with lots of branching varieties. All of the corals are well preserved, in densely grown patches that often show a remarkable mix of different species.

Fish life is not the most profuse in the Straits of Tiran, but there are some notable surprises including a huge moray eel with a body as thick as a small divers waist. Triggerfish abound while surgeons and jacks swim in moderately large schools, and angels, parrotfish and small wrasse are all present in good numbers. Large Napoleon wrasse can often be seen along the reef. The reef slope is suitable for relatively inexperienced divers while more experienceddivers will enjoy the incredible experience to be had at the shark amphitheatre.

Access to the dive: By local or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh, Naama Bay or other ports.
Conditions: As with all Straits reefs, can be swept by current.
Experience grade: Everyone

Thomas Reef

Facts about dive:
This site is on a generally steep sloping reef, which includes some plateau sections and a very deep canyon running along the reef's southern section. It is the smallest of the four Tiran reefs, and its position in the chain leaves it exposed to some fairly vigorous currents.

The reef's upper section is a riot of color, encompassing some of the finest soft coral growth in the Sinai region. Huge, densley packed fields of Dendronephthya of every imaginable hue are spread across the reef, along with antler corals, fine Stylophora, some Acropora and many other stony coral forms. Fish live is also rich, with the greatest concentration in the shallows. Lyretail cod and other groupers grow to great size, and many varieties of rabbitfish and wrasse congregate along the reef face, accompanied by box and pufferfish. The only reason to go much deeper than 20m at Thomas Reef is to explore the canyon; an option for only very experienced deep divers. You should not even consider this hazardous option without consulting your dive guide.

Access to the dive: By local or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh, Naama Bay or other ports.
Conditions: Current can be strong.
Experience grade: Everyone


Wood House Reef

Facts about dive:
Lying between Jackson and Gordon Reef The Woodhouse is a long, narrow reef running at an angle from northeast to southwest. From its shallow reeftop, the reef drops at a sharp angle on all sides; although it is less than vertical throughout the reef's length, the angle steepens still further beyond 25m.

Woodhouse is generally dived as a drift along the reef's eastern side. The current is usually moderate, but can pick up speed at certain phases of the Moon, particularly toward the northern channel between Woodhouse and Jackson. Care should be taken not to get pulled around the point here, as you could be swept off the reef into the main shipping lane. Coral cover is excellent throughout the reef, with dense growth all over; there are a few sandy patches at depths of around 20m. Many species are present but because of the sheltered position of the reef, away from the main current, a certain amount of sedimentation has affected the corals here. Pelagic fish including big tuna and schools of trevally or jacks. Fusilieres, snapper, surgeons and unicorns alsoschool here, along with thousands of other reef fish.

Access to the dive: Local or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh, Naama Bay or other ports.
Conditions: Strong current possible
Experience grade: Experienced

Jackson Reef

Facts about dive:
On the northern edge of the reef, the wreck of a grounded freighter stands as a warning to shipping in the busy straits; most of its hull has been salvaged for scrap, leaving only a skeletal hulk. A fixed mooring exists at the southern end of the reef; dives begin from this point and proceed generally northward along the east side of the reef. Current tends to run from the north, and generally picks up strength as you approach the point on the east side. Most divers will want to make this the northern limit of their dive, and turn back to the south here. Strong swimmers with good air consumption and experience in currents can round the point, after which the current slackens, and continue their dive along the reef's north edge. This should only be done by prior arrangement with your dive guide, and great care should be taken, since divers have been swept off the reef here.

The steep-sided walls of Jackson Reef are among the finest in the Sinai region; the current-swept reef is densely grown with a real profusion of hard and soft corals, with special accents provided by luxuriant gorgonian fans, sea whips and black corals, and vivid growths of soft coral.

Fish life, not suprisingly, is excellent. The strong current brings plenty of nutrients for reef and schooling fish; current and profile combine to tempt pelagic fish in from the open water, and large schools of barracuda and jacks are common here, as are larger predators including several species of shark. The smaller reef species on which these pelagic visitors feed are profuse.

Access to the dive: By local or live-aboard boat from Sharm El Sheikh or other ports.
Conditions: As with all Tiran sites, strong currents are a very real possibility.






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