About 20kms south of Marsa Alam lies Elphinstone Reef, so called because it is named after the Admiral Charles Elphistone Fleming who mapped its 300 metre length.
Currents are usually quite strong along the
reef and particularly tricky at depth at the ends. Large pelagics are common at depths of 30m plus, the reef walls are sheer and the best side of the reef to dive depends on the time of day (east early in the day because it gets the sunlight, west later in the day) and both sides around mid-day.
This is our last diving day with only two dives and instead of the final dive being an easy routine bay dive, we are diving twice on the reef. The early morning dive is to be the whole of the east side and part of the west and the mid morning last dive is to be half of the east side and the whole of the west.
Having entered from the rib, we head straight for a cave which is shallow
before descending down to 38 metres where
we sight a Grey Reef Shark patrolling just
below us. For about five minutes, the shark puts up with our presence without complaint
but then starts to exhibit one of the signs of shark annoyance which is large movement of its tail from the left
to the right.
The dive is about to turn into a deco dive because of the time we have spent at depth so ascent to shallower waters is sensible for more than one reason.
Once we have levelled out, along comes a turtle.
Turtles seem to be single minded beasts and continue along their planned course no matter who is in the way.
And so this turtle heads straight for me
and passes by close enough to see every detail
of its beautiful shell.
Spot the Scorpion Fish!
On the reef wall there is a scorpion fish just waiting for lunch to pass by.
It is so well camouflaged
that you have to know it is there before you can see it.
Scorpion fishes have a sharp spines coated with venomous mucus along their back and therefore one gives them a wide berth.
Next we meet a rather nice looking Sea Cucumber which is munching whatever it can find on the coral
wall and then two varieties of Nudibranch
which to me seem quite surprising for such an animal.
Fish abound both in shoals
and on their own
and of course we meet a number of
Morays looking for lunch
This large fan coral is a most unusual colour
and at the other end of the size spectrum
we find a Clown Shrimp.
As a last dive, this was fantastic with all of the types of sea creatures and coral life we could want to see.
Once back on the boat, it rapidly starts to
resemble a divers bazaar with every spot being used to dry equipment before packing – the temperature is around 40C so it does not take too long.