Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Dives 7 to 11 – Little Brother

Little Brother is only a few minutes away from Big Brother. Having dived four times on Big Brother amongst too many other dive boats and finding that there were seven boats tied

1 LBS DiveBoats

up to Little Brother when we arrived there, we all voted to dive five times at Little Brother over two days (today and tomorrow) and then head off to Safaga in the evening and dive the Salem Express the following morning.

The island itself is quite small and has nothing

LBS with BB in background

on it apart from an Egyptian Flag and a few stone cairns (this view is from the south east).

Little Brother 003

The most common direction for the currents is from the north with the split point moving backwards and forwards a bit around the reef at the northern end of the island. Hence diving at this end requires fast negative entry in order to get shelter from the wall.

Boats tend to moor around the south eastern corner of the island

Little Brother 005

The wall is reasonably shear on the eastern and western sides but there are plateaux on the north and south – there is a cleaning station at about 40m on the northern plateau with a shallower plateau at around 25m from

small brother stuff1where one can watch the sharks (who will run for it if you get too close). Dropping onto the shallower plateau at 25m requires careful positioning of the rib and a fast negative entry.

There is a large clump of Gorgonians at about 30m on the southern side of the island.

LBS Gorgoneans

LBS Coral-001

LBS Coral-002

LBS Battered Gorgoneon

LBS Coral-003

These we found but they did look rather battered, perhaps from the number of divers who visit them.

Other corals looked in quite good condition

LBS Coral

LBS Fish Coral

a fish hiding in Fire Coral for protection

LBS Corals

One particular Grey Reef Shark came very LBS Shark 2

close to us on nearly every dive as it patrolled up and down the reef.

Twice we were joined by a large Napoleon

LBS Napoleon-003

which has a reputation for being interested in divers. It really is very large and swam around us with little effort

LBS Napoleon

LBS Napoleon-001

LBS Napoleon-002

LBS Napoleon-004

My favourite picture of it was when it was joined by a Trumpet Fish swimming just above its head.

LBS Napoleon with Trumpet

Fish life around the island seemed to be

LBS Fish-007

more extensive than that around Big Brother. During our dives, the fish seen (and willing to be photographed) included:

2 LBS Banner Fish

Banner Fish

LBS Fish Trumpets

Trumpet Fish

LBS Fish

LBS Fish-001

LBS Fish Coral-001

LBS Fish-003

Shoals of Antheas usually close to coral

LBS Fish-004

Royal Angel Fish

LBS FIsh-005


LBS Fish-008

Big Eyed Wrasse

LBS Fish Emperor Angelfish

Quite a few Emperor Angel Fish seem to live around the island

LBS Fish Goby

this goby decided to remain still whilst its picture was taken – many of them wait just until you are about to press the button and then make off at high speed.

LBS Fish Nemo

a very bold Nemo which was determined to see us off

LBS Fish Titan

this Titan swam straight through us all quite fast as if it had something else to do than worry about us.

LBS Fish Trevally

a number of large Trevally came quite close and they seem to swim with little effort or speed.

I though that the thermoclines around the island were very noticeable with significant changes in temperature but luckily not producing upward or downward drafts. It would not be a suitable place to dive for anyone not in a wet suit and those of our group wearing shorties reported feeling the cold.

Because the sea was quite choppy, the dive plan for the first dive was to go off the stern, follow our mooring line towards the reef, descend under the boat parked adjacent to us to 20m, then with the reef on the left shoulder, descend further to about 35m to see the large Gorgoneans.

The dive plan for the second dive was to go around the island to the far side by rib then drop fast through the choppy sea down to a plateau at about 25m in the hope of seeing sharks at the cleaning station down which is at 40m (if you drop onto the cleaning station itself, the sharks will scatter). Whilst there were some sharks at the station, at depth, the thermocline generated current was the wrong way and the  took me down to 39m and so prudence dictated as fast an ascent as the dive computer would allow and then a drift along the shelf wall with the current back to the boat. The wall is quite pretty with a number of interesting fish and the Napoleon appearing yet again.

I chose to repeat the first dive for my third dive at Little Brother and saw the Shark and Napoleon again together with numerous Trumpet Fish which played with both the Napoleon and our air bubbles. Although the thermoclines were very noticeable, there was little current and it was a nice easy dive.

The fourth dive was a repeat of the second dive with a Fox, Thresher and Oceanic shark being seen at the cleaning station. The current took us around the eastern side of the island through numerous thermoclines and following a fin out into the blue to ensure we were well away from the waves crashing onto the reef, it was a difficult rib pick up and back to the boat.

The fifth and last dive at Little Brother was a restricted version of the third dive – we chose to find a piece of interesting coral and just hang there and watch the fish without doing much work. Of course the shark came by again and so did the Napoleon and numerous Trumpet Fish.

Before dinner we set sail for Safaga with the intention of arriving there around bed time, hopefully finding it quiet enough there for a good night's sleep.

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