Dive Sites of the Northern Red Sea: Shark & Yolanda Reef

Snappers on Shark Reef

June 20, 2019

Shark & Yolanda Reef

Every June OTA Diving takes the plunge into the fantastic Egyptian Red Sea.  It is one of the most beautiful and healthy reef systems on the planet.

Ras Mohamed Arch
Ras Mohamed National Park Land Arch

Ras Mohamed National Park: 50 + dive sites in this area where the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez all meet at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula.  The waters surrounding the peninsula are considered the jewel in the crown of the Red Sea. The park is visited annually by more than 50,000 visitors, enticed by the prospect of experiencing some of the world’s most spectacular coral-reef ecosystems. The National Park also covers about 50 square miles of surprisingly rich desert habitat. 

One of the most striking areas of the park are the mangroves.  Mangroves are very rare in the Sinai, and in fact are at the very northern edge of their range here.  The mangroves grow along the coast and through large cracks in the land, formed by ancient earthquakes.  Some of these cracks are over 120 ft long and 50 feet deep.  The mangroves are important habitats providing food and shelter for birds and marine species.

Ras Mohammed provides shelter for 80 plant species, 14 mammal species, and  220 bird species including the white stork on its migratory path stopping off on the trek between Europe and East Africa. You can also spot herons, terns, seagulls, and ospreys. The inland area includes a diversity of desert habitats such as mountains and wadis, gravel and coastal mud plains and sand dunes.

Barracuda school

 

The Crown Jewel of Ras Mohamed National Park

Barracuda school
witness a swirling school of baby barracuda

Shark & Yolanda Reef:  This two for one special at the tip of the Sinai is where all the action happens in the Summer.  Consistently named in the Top 5 Dive Sites in the World thanks to the strong currents that carry you past Shark Reef--a massive sheer wall covered in soft pink and purple corals. Millions of bright orange anthias fish dart in and out of the wall as you drift by stunning soft pink and purple corals.  To your left is a massive school of snapper forming an immense funnel of fish that hang in the current.

Straight ahead is a huge school of unicorn fish, followed by a hawksbill sea turtle munching on soft coral.  As we round the corner, the sheer wall becomes a gradual slope completely covered in magnificent corals – there are pinnacles and outcroppings everywhere, and it’s hard to know where to look first.  In June and July, you can see schooling baby barracudas, schooling parrotfish, schooling pufferfish and schooling unicorn fish all taking advantage of the nutrients brought in by the currents.  You’ll end on what’s left of the wreckage of the Yolanda – tubs, sinks, toilets and even a BMW are now habitat and home to corals and marine life.  If you still have air, we’ll continue on to satellite reef and keep our eyes out on the drop off for any pelagics that might be passing by.

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