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Red Sea Life
The Pelagic lottery
Photos by dan Beecham and the save our seas Foundation library
spring and autumn months offer the best chance for
adrenaline filled encounters in this area with the possibility of
encountering a wide variety of larger species of shark and ray.
Glance at any red sea marine life guide or chat to regular consideration to increase their chances of an encounter with a larger
underwater visitors and you know that if you are lucky to be on marine creature. divers are always at the mercy of nature and the
the right dive, there is a good chance of encounters with some of elements but research into your destination, the style of diving you
the world’s most spectacular pelagic. but is there a trick other than will be doing and of course where and when you visit are all vital in
sheer luck to better your chances of seeing the big stuff? Save Our maximizing your chances of success in the so called ‘pelagic lottery.’
Seas correspondent Owen Bruce reports.
Water temperature
Timing your visit with the correct water temperature is essential.
The incredible variety of macro critters in the red sea will always have
The red sea water temperature stays relatively constant year round,
a special allure of their own, but more often than not it is the bigger
however, the slight fluctuation has a big impact of the movements of
animals that give divers, particularly new divers, that adrenaline
marine creatures – either causing them to stay in the warmest areas
buzz. It is the chance experience that brings tens of thousands of
or actively seek out a food source found in specific conditions. sharks
divers each year to Egypt’s many premier dive locations. More than
and rays in particular will also move vertically in the water column
40 species of shark are present in red sea waters along with many
depending on these factors and this will play a big part in whether or
larger rays, including both species of giant manta rays and their eagle,
not they are visible to recreational divers at any given time.
spotted and marble relatives. dolphins and turtles are also regularly
In the northern red sea in the summer months, increased water
temperatures see an increase in general productivity of the reef;
Nevertheless, such encounters are not guaranteed – often it’s a case
cooler nutrient rich water rising from the depths mixes with the warm
of the old diving cliché of ‘Being in the right place at the right time.’
surface water replenishing the reefs after the longer cooler months.
But what exactly is the right place and time for seeing the larger
This boost of energy provides the reefs inhabitants with an optimum
pelagic visitors such as sharks in Egyptian waters?
window in which they can feed and breed. This increase in life brings
As an underwater cameraman with the save our seas Foundation, the larger pelagic species such as sharks closer to the reef.
I regularly travel as part of a large film crew to distant exotic
Whale sharks and manta rays use the warm water in another way.
locations. With the expense and logistics involved, we cannot afford
These species have been shown by satellite tagging to dive to
to draw a blank in our search for the animals or behaviours we are
extreme depths, presumably in search of greater resources of
on location to film – in what is often a tight time frame for filming.
plankton. Mantas are shown to reach 200m while whale sharks can
dive tourists visiting the red sea can adopt the factors we take into
go to well beyond 1,000m. After such long deep dives the huge
Issue  october / November 2009
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