Today I clock up my 100th dive having started diving some three years ago. There is a supposed tradition that your 100th dive is done in the nude – that rule has been relaxed here because of the mixed company on the boat. It is also the case that four divers will become 100 during this week, and that much nudity could put off the fish.
From the surface, the reef looks something like the map although you have to allow for artistic interpretation in the map (we saw no Elephants)
insert stitched picture of claudia
and also the fact that coral slopes out underwater towards the seabed and many elements on the map cannot be seen from the surface.
Claudia offers an amazing set of swim throughs – narrow passages and tunnels into the coral which open up into caverns or chimneys down which
sun light streams. The tunnels twist and turn around one side and rise and fall like a roller coaster
Eventually you see the exit in front of you.
around in the early sunlight (it is about 1 hour after dawn)
The coral is particularly picturesque and seems to thrive in an area with good water flow.
One clump of Anemone has some very active Nemos living in it
Dive 101 – Abu Galawa Small
A lesson about clams – there are a lot of clams on this dive site so it is worth a brief diversion to learn about them. The old story that divers could get a leg or a fin trapped in a clam mouth and meet a sorry end unless rescued in time, is luckily a myth. However often they react by closing as you swim over or approach them.
Clams will grow on almost anything but seem to prefer coral pinnacles with some constant water flow. Where you get one, you usually find more and apart from their mouths, they are well camouflaged with their surroundings. There are at least four in the above photograph.
Clams are filter feeders – this means they suck water in through one hole, filter it for nutrients and oxygen and then pump the water out through the other hole. Therefore they thrive most where there is a flow of water over their mouths.
You can the the two mouths (Valves – hence the name Bi-Valve for a clam)in the photograph below, one
near the middle and the other on the far right,
when they close their shells, they do so gracefully and relatively slowly. The mouth is about 1 cm deep.
This video shows a clam reacting to passing water flows
This site offers a beautiful swim through a coral garden into a large amphitheatre, then over a coral wall and on the less spectacular western side, with the famous wreck of a yacht. Depth is never more than around 25m and currents are light so it is an easy mid morning dive.
After the garden comes a number of pinnacles, some rising to within a few
metres of the surface, others are much smaller but just as interesting.
Some coral is showing signs of bleaching due to high water temperatures
This site is famous for the wreck of what must have been a fine sailing yacht (possibly the Endymion) – apparently it was American (or maybe Australian !) and sank in 1998 or 2002 depending on whom you believe. It was sailing around the world when it dragged onto the reef. Not much is left now
and it is slightly more barnacle encrusted than when I saw it last year.
Its inside is home to shoals of fish including these mirror fish
The toilet remains however and many divers have had their picture taken on it – divers please note that marine flush rules apply!
The sea bed is dotted with rather large sand casts – I have no idea what
created them. The above is about 10 cms by 7 cms in size. If anyone knows, please tell me.
There were also a lot of grazing goat fish, they root around in the sand seeking anything they can eat.
This is a most beautiful dive, the coral garden is one of the best found anywhere in the Red Sea and the pinnacles are teaming with life. There is no better way to spend an hour underwater than to dive here.