For the full photo album, click here to Facebook.
A ten day long windy spell has finally given way to what is normally our typical summer weather: flat calm seas ;-)
For our Famous 5 trip this week we had again a mini United Nations Committee on board, including South Africans, British, Spanish, Germans, Australians and Thai.
Captain Mahmoud decided to sail to the Brothers first in an attempt to avoid the rough weather, which was still besieging the north but seemed to have left the south behind. Very wise decision, as we had perfect weather on the Brothers and later on in the north!
The wreck of the Salem Express was on our way and she welcomed us with great visibility and a blanket of fusiliers. Andy and Wanwisa even spotted a sea moth hovering about on the side of the ship, what an unusual and rare surprise! They usually dwell on sandy bottoms and are not common at all … excellent find.
Luxury diving on the Little Brother was next, as we were the only boat and the currents very mild all day. We enjoyed the gorgeous gorgonian fan garden in all its splendor, with large Napoleon wrasse swimming by. A huge school of densely packed crescent-tail big-eyes, and an equally large but less dense group of schooling bannerfish, as well as schooling cornetfish, were profusely admired, while the dazzling soft coral growth, smothered in lovely orange anthias, displaying the most purple of eyes and eye-liners, provided a magnificent back-drop.
The Northwestern Point of the Little Brother had two grey reef sharks in store for us, as well as many large dogtooth tuna. Some very elegant yellowfin tuna were chasing each other along the reef, not a very common sighting as they only really come close to the reef at mating time.
The real winner, though, was the Numidia. Not only is she striking, covered in soft corals, she also worked her ever powerful magic by producing three mating grey reef sharks chasing one another back and forth, as well as a handsome,large hammerhead making several passes across the wreck in its majestic winding way. Finally, around the corner, a thresher shark was getting cleaned by the reef, just a few metres under us, while schools of dogtooth tuna of all sizes patrolled the reef chasing each other, obviously mating … awesome! The west wall, as usual, was magnificent, with its gorgeous overhangs populated by different species of fans, spilling out over the wall, which is carpeted in lush soft corals in all shades of pink, purple and orange.
Shark Reef and Yolanda always impress, even when the current comes across from Yolanda. Especially this time of year, diving here is memorable, as dense schools of red snapper, unicorns, batfish, trevally and blackfin barracuda hover about around both reefs. An eagle ray flew by us and we spotted a large feathertail stingray resting on the sand. The advantage of having a reverse current was that we could get all around Yolanda, ending up in the shallows, completely draped by anthias, soldierfish and soft corals.
The visibility on the Dunraven went for miles, and the density of the glassfish at mid-ship was overwhelming. The soft corals are doing very well everywhere, being ever so lush at the glassfish area and at the bow of the Dunraven.
Cooler water than normal for the last years has definitely boosted soft corals growth everywhere in the Red Sea! Get those thicker suits out, as we still have 26-27 degrees up north in mid-July.
The Thistlegorm showed itself in its best visibility during the morning dive and was visited by schooling Superheroes on a special under-cover mission … the fish were most impressed! Andy and Wanwisa also spotted a few very yummy looking Tambja affinis nudibranchs in the Thistlegorm holds.
We were all sad when the aft mast of the Rosalie Moller fell some time ago, ending up lying at an angle over the side of the wreck, but actually it turned out to be a good thing as the whole mast is now smothered in massive purple and pink soft corals, glassfish, cardinalfish and silversides. One could spend the whole dive simply exploring this magnificent mast. Four grey morays, Flabellina rubrolineata nudibranchs, crested velvetfish, lionfish, fridman’s and yellowback dottybacks, many blennies, banded boxer shrimps and a whole school of cave cleaner shrimps, amongst many other fascinating creatures, also call it home.
The Carnatic was everybody’s favourite, so very scenic, overgrown with soft corals and densely populated by glassfish with the beautiful light shafts penetrating the decking ribs creating such a cathedral-like atmosphere.
The Ornate Ghost pipefish at Um Gammar Island has moved on but we had wonderful dives by day and night as we spotted large Spanish dancers, banded snake eels, stonefish, huge morays and were fascinated again by that beautiful glassfish pinnacle, home to a whole school of lionfish.
A huge thank you goes to our superb guests who made diving the Famous 5 such an enthusiastic and beautiful experience. Thank you so much for sharing our dear Red Sea with us! A great thank you also to our dear Captain Mahmoud and his splendid and hard-working Crew, who took such good care of us, taking as there and back again safely and always with broad smiles.
Dear Fish and Soft Coral Friends, have a safe journey home and hopefully see you soon again!
Fat sea hugs