Giant Gorgonian, Shark Reef, Mohammed, Egypt

Wednesday, June 06, 2007 Craig Grobler 0 Comments

Shark Reef and Yolanda Reef are two reefs rising just off the Ras Mohammed coast. They are twin peaks of a single coral sea mount, separated from the mainland by a shallow channel.

Shark Reef is the more colourful and spectacular of the two reefs; with its wall and great marine life. Yolanda Reef is the larger of the two. Its name comes from a vessel which sank here in 1980.

Two ergs rise up from a vertical wall with a drop off down to 300 metres. The dive begins at shark reef and continues with the current until reaching the cargo of the Jolanda, where the sea floor rises to about 15-25 metres and is strewn with toilets. There are lots of schools of fish and other sea life including stone fish and scorpion fish. Large pelagics may gather beyond the reef, so keep watching the open sea.The water here is truly deep and as you look down the vertical wall the water takes on an inky dark feel, even though viz is often in excess of 30m. An ideal start depth here would be the 30-40m mark, where if the current allows it is worth spending some time looking out into the blue.

Whilst a little more rare these days it is still possible to see white-tip reef sharks and if you're lucky larger grey reef sharks identifiable by the thick black strip which runs all the way down the rear of their tail fins. Scalloped hammerhead have been spotted as well. Also look out for barracuda, jacks and tuna. The reef itself on the eastern side of Shark Reef is fed by nutrients from the sometimes strong currents and as a result there are some beautiful gorgonian fan corals and black whip coral. The deeper part of the reef has a proliferation of soft coral from the 30m - 70m range. Soft coral requires much less light than hard coral and seems to thrive in this inky abyss. Once you have spent some time on the east side of Shark Reef, or if the current is running, then turn and with your right shoulder reef side head southwest around the reef. You will see the reef wall sloping up beneath you as you head towards the gap between Shark Reef and Jolanda and you drift over a rising plateau.

Ras Mohammed is the National Park of South Sinai and located on the very tip of the Sinai Peninsula; it probably represents some of the most famous dive sites in the Red Sea with 800-metre (2,600 ft) deep reef walls and pounding current and coral gardens.