Recently in General Red Sea Info Category
We divers know the sea is not an aquarium and that nothing can be guaranteed, but we also know that there are certain destinations to go to for the
best chances of diving with the big stuff.
The Red Sea has always been convenient, close and with reliable clear, warm waters. It has also always had the capacity to surprise, with sightings big and small every year to delight divers. Right now though, it is on a hot streak and is delivering delights that we haven't had since the pioneer days of Red Sea diving.
Nature often has cycles but could there be another reason for such amazing diving right now? Is it due to the reduced number of, not just divers, but water users up and down the Red Sea coast since the decline in tourism due to the 2011 and 2013 uprisings? Certainly there are many fewer dive boats on each dive site compared to the peak years of the early 21st century but not only that, there are many fewer watercraft, not as many bathers, less construction on the coast, less sewage and less chemical runoff all as a consequence of lower numbers.
Plus, conservation organisations such as HEPCA have been subsidising fishermen to encourage them not to fish in breeding seasons.
Could it be that all these factors are starting to produce a positive effect on the marine environment in the Red Sea? Well, we've now had excellent diving for more than a year so we certainly think so.
This newsletter is going to showcase the phenomenal sightings we have had – and to really prove a point we will only include pictures and videos from this June and July!
September through to November usually presents the best diving year on year. Sea temperatures are an average of 28-30C while air temperatures cool a little from the hot summer. The big life loves these months, and we cannot wait to see what's in store under the waves. With good flight prices available now for those three months, come and get some of the action with a truly welcoming team of guides and crew.
What's been showing in the Red Sea theatre...
Not seen since 2014, Dennis the Dugong makes a welcome return in this video by guest, Chris Colliard.
Hammerheads at Daedalus
A theatre of delights with hammerheads and happy guests.
Daedalus & Elphinstone
Top of the tops diving, plenty of sunlight, warm water, excellent boats, professional and smiley team and affordable prices.
Elphinstone day trip
Oceanics get close up and personal in this video.
Red Sea safari
Everybody do the manta dance! Fabulous video with thanks to guest, Simon. Got your wavy arms ready?
Meet the dugong whisperer!
Dive guide Taki gets it right most of the time. Here with dugong mum and her calf with thanks to Eric and Valerie Du Pont for the photos. Magical.
The Big Friendly Giant
Happiness is waving at a whale shark. Right here in the Red Sea. Not too far to travel for an experience of a lifetime is it?
Now all you need to do is get here!
Contact our really helpful team today.
Win prizes from Suunto, O'Three, Fourth Element, Mares, Apeks, Scubapro and TUSA in the Scubaverse Audience Survey 2016.
The Scubaverse team is ready to take their relationship with you, the Scubaverse audience, to the next level. But in order to do that, they would like to get to know you better… so they're launching the first ever Scubaverse Audience Survey! By getting to know you better, they can post more of the stuff you like and less of the stuff you don't.
As an incentive to take part, they've teamed up with some of the world's leading dive equipment manufacturers to give away some amazing prizes.
Take part in Scubaverse.com's Audience Survey, and you could win one of the following prizes:
- Suunto EON Steel Dive Computer
- O'Three MSF2 500 TB Drysuit
- Fourth Element Proteus 2 Wetsuit
- Mares Hybrid BCD
- Apeks XTX50 Regulator
- Mask, Fins and Snorkel from TUSA
- Scubapro Porter Bag
The survey should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete. You can take it here: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/scubaverseaudience.
The Scubaverse Audience Survey closes on 27/07/16.
Maldives and Red Sea SAVINGS
Save up to £250/€320
Enjoy this beautiful video of dolphins by the boat, Isa, with the Marsa Alam team on the way to Elphinstone recently.
Guests also saw a hammerhead and grey reef shark and divers taking a third dive of the day had Dyson the dugong swim past them on Farsha Sahab. It was dive guide, Boody's, really lucky day - and our guests were rather happy too!
There are many ways to get to Elphinstone with us; either privately guided, on a course such as Drift Speciality or even AOW dives.
Did you know? We are the only liveaboard company who gives free places for small groups.
So if you’re diving with a few friends, then get as few as FIVE of you together and ONE goes FREE in the Red Sea and in the Maldives it’s SIX pay and ONE goes FREE!
All our liveaboards offer discounts for groups – just have a browse around at the different boats and see what’s on offer. There’s quite a saving to be had!
Small is beautiful but we go right the way up with discounts for large groups.
On many Emperor Red Sea liveaboards
5 pay full price - 1 goes free
On Emperor Maldives liveaboards it’s as few as
6 pay + 1 goes free
Diving the best sites that the Red Sea has to offer, coupled with hands on experience of life on board, it doesn’t come better than this for those who have always wanted to sample that ‘dream job’. We’re looking for enthusiastic PADI and/or SSI Divemasters/Instructors who want to learn what it’s all about and who will enjoy learning what it takes to be a liveaboard guide.
This is a volunteer unpaid position but you will gain a wealth of knowledge from our experienced staff, who look forward to welcoming you as part of the team and showing you every aspect of the dive operation on board. We’re looking for enthusiastic, customer-focused individuals who are passionate about diving and learning new skills. You must be able to speak and write English as a minimum but additional languages are an advantage.
Emperor Divers will cover all the diving, Nitrox tanks, food, Marine Park taxes and transfers to/from the boat to Hurghada or Marsa Alam, depending on where the boat returns to, and a visa extension for four weeks after you arrive. Where possible you will sleep in a shared cabin but where we have a full charter you may need to sleep in the saloon or, if you prefer, under the stars. You will need to arrange and pay for your own flights and preferably have your own equipment, although you can rent this from us at a discounted price if needed.
Interested? Please email your CV with current photo to email@example.com quoting reference IP001.
Words from a Red Sea Dweller
I’m an ex-pat, which is a posh way to say immigrant, and have been for the past seven years. I like the quiet life, so as soon as I set eyes upon Port Ghalib on the south of Egypt’s Red Sea coast, I knew it was where I wanted to call ‘home’. It has a small community, a smattering of bars and restaurants and a very simple landscape of vast yellow desert and even vaster blue sea. It is such a sleepy place, that in my seven years the most threatening thing to have happened was a brief dust up between a few dive guides and a couple of amateur boxers in (the once popular but now closed) TGI Fridays. And a donkey once gave me a peculiar look. Frightening stuff.
You’ll know Port Ghalib if you’ve been on one of the many liveaboards that depart from here, often going to Brothers Islands or Daedalus and occasionally further south. Or, you’re one of the relatively few divers that have been this far south on a land-based trip. For those that don’t know, it is a small private, modern development right next to Marsa Alam airport (RMF), almost exactly 200km South of Hurghada (HRG). It has never been inundated with holidaymakers, mainly because the airport does not receive many flights (only one per week from the UK) but divers have usually been savvy enough to find a way down via Hurghada. Those that come are rewarded with exceptional coral reefs, regular sightings of the rare dugong, and pelagic encounters on famous reefs like Elphinstone.
I came to Egypt in early 2009 to begin my career as a Dive Instructor having cut my teeth part time in the UK as a Divemaster (playing dead in the corners of Stony Cove, waiting an age for the next Rescue Diver student to locate me and inevitably flood my drysuit with icy water while they grappled me to the surface). The full time job paid the bills but the diving was what I lived for and so the opportunity to combine the pleasure with the pay was too much to resist – quit boring job, rent out apartment, store possessions, pack bags, go. Oh, and bring the missus.
Since 2009, I have seen three major news items hit the TV about this country, each one rocking the tourism industry; the Arab Spring of 2011, the ouster of the Islamist presidency of summer 2013 and most recently the plane incident on Sinai in October 2015. I’m not even going to include that recent (January 2016) nonsense in Hurghada that should have barely made national news, let alone front page international “news” (I’m being kind to the Daily Mail there). Thankfully for the latter incident, the Foreign Office and credible news outlets waited for the facts to come out before splashing their opinions all over the place, and rightly ignored it as the scuffle it was. So back to the three major incidents, and how I viewed them as a resident and insider. Not surprisingly, I saw events unfold in the exact same way most Brits would have, namely clutching a cold beer and watching the TV. Probably the only difference being I was wearing flip flops and shorts.
Cairo is a long, long way away from the Red Sea, the closest resort being Hurghada at a mere 280 miles or so, Marsa more like 400. I know this, as I recently had to travel there to go and see Star Wars: The Force Awakens (hey, I was born in 1978 and I’m called Luke – what choice do I have?). My options were either a seven-hour car journey or a one-hour flight, hardly next door. So to be worried about whether events in Cairo would spill over, while sitting in a bar in a Red Sea resort, would be like someone in Seahouses (if you’ve not been there, you haven’t done some of the best UK diving on offer!) worried about the London rioters knocking on their door in August 2011. For those who worked in the Egyptian diving industry during these events, the worry was never safety. I never saw a thing firsthand that would have told me anything was amiss in Cairo. The worry was, and still is today, what will be the impact on the number of divers coming out?
The latest incident regarding the plane downing in Sinai late last year caused a response by the Foreign Office to put flights into and out of Sharm on hold, while the cause was investigated alongside a review of Egyptian airport security. The effect on Sharm has been colossal with many hotels and some dive centres closed at least temporarily whilst some have packed up for good. It’s a little bit difficult to watch and this well written article in the Gulf news by a British journalist makes some very good points about the scale of the reaction to that incident and even has a poll at the end (you have to pick an answer to see the result), which shows to me that most people really do have their heads screwed on right: http://gulfnews.com/opinion/thinkers/egypt-s-tourism-industry-battered-unfairly-1.1655842 .
It’s difficult for those who have never been to the Red Sea before to visualise the Egyptian Red Sea as a peaceful and welcoming place since the media has inevitably tarred the whole of Egypt with a very large brush. I’m sure those that have been before know, when they stop to think, that a trip to Sharm, Hurghada or Marsa Alam would be safe but are still maybe hesitating. We are very good at focusing on ourselves and our own (sometimes inaccurate or misled) intuitions instead of facts; it’s for that reason for example that people often find it difficult to intuit that in any 23 random people, there is a greater than 50% chance that two share the same birthday. It’s true, look it up. And so it is, if you find yourself hesitating about an upcoming Red Sea dive trip, it’s the misleading part of your intuition at work.
The facts about the Red Sea are clear. It is the closest warm water coral reef diving to the UK at five hours by plane. It is one of the best value diving destinations available to Brits. There are world class events to be seen such as the fish schooling of Ras Mohamed, as well as possible encounters with sharks, mantas, dolphins, dugong and turtles to name but a few. The visibility is usually a spectacular 30m+ and the water temperature ranges from 22C to 30C. There are wrecks of every shape and size to suit divers of all ability. There is a phenomenal tourism infrastructure, hotels of every class, liveaboard vessels, dive boats and transportation on hand everywhere. The diving is regulated and safe, with professional licensed outfits available in all the main resorts as well as a large network of hyperbaric chambers should one need. The local people are always hospitable and are especially welcoming to British nationals who traditionally have supported Egypt at times when other nationalities have not. And, most pertinently, it is safe to holiday here. As I said, I am sure most of you believe this deep down anyway but for those who don’t, just look at the Foreign Office advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/egypt . Hurghada – green. Sharm El Sheikh – green. Marsa Alam – green. Even Cairo – green (which suited my cinema ambitions). They quote “Over 900,000 British nationals visit Egypt every year. Most visits are trouble-free”. The same is true for all the major European advices; Germany, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy etc. I’m no mug; I wouldn’t live here if I doubted my safety.
Unsurprisingly the national response has not been covered in the international press as widely as the incidents themselves. Boring news does not sell papers. Egypt needs tourism; it is a huge and vital part of the country’s revenue. And so while I think you would have to go a long way to find someone in the Egyptian government who considers the sudden drop in tourism fair or justified, they have been forced to react positively. I bashed the Daily Mail earlier, so it’s only fair to include an article they ran somewhere in their back pages recently: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-3399945/Egypt-spend-32M-upgrading-tourist-resort-security.html . As well as an investment in resort security, there has been work behind the scenes on airport security. British government representatives have recently been over to Egypt and have voiced their approval at the decision to use an international private company, Control Risks, to audit and strengthen security at airports, although you have to dig very deep for this news http://allafrica.com/stories/201601210964.html.
Since Egypt also recently finalised their democratic government with the first session of parliament for three years, another British government delegation which was there to see the inaugural session, “affirmed they would recommend the resumption of British air flights to Sharm El Sheikh upon their return to the UK”, which again was hardly reported http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/181266/Egypt/Politics-/British-parliament-members-recommend-resumption-of.aspx
For you, the savvy diver, this is all good news indeed, albeit news you probably would not have seen. So, Egypt is safe as the FCO advises, yet it is spending significantly to further secure its resorts. Egypt has also shown a quick and welcomed response to improving airport security to eradicate the one ban that does currently apply at Sharm airport. Diving in Egypt in the past few years has just got better and better; 2015 must go down as one of the best ever, certainly in the past 10 years. Ras Mohamed had fish schools of epic proportion, Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone had near ever present shark sightings (hammerhead, whale shark, grey reef, thresher and oceanic whitetip to name a few) from May to December and even Rocky Island in the far south had tiger sharks for two months.
It could be asserted that perhaps there were too many divers in the years leading up to 2011 with reports of overcrowding on popular reefs and wrecks and nowhere near as many pelagic sightings as we have had recently. Since the masses will be hesitating about coming to the Red Sea, there is an opportunity for savvy divers in 2016 to experience the resorts and diving like never before. Reefs should be uncrowded, deals should be plentiful, and the diving spectacular. You can book for Marsa or Hurghada right now and expect the Sharm airport situation to be resolved in time to allow summer (which is the prime time for the Ras Mo fish schooling) trips there.
There are no guarantees in life, but if you look at the facts rather than the tabloid tales they chose to sell papers and decide rationally rather than intuitively, then you will see that rather than thinking to give the Red Sea a miss for the time being, it is exactly the time to come and dive here. If you do, I’d love to share a cold beer with you. Bring your own shorts and flip flops.
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