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Red Sea Life
whale sharks are regularly seen in the summer
months cruising aimlessly right at the surface for
long periods of time.
filter feeders will return to the warm surface waters to heat up. famed hotspots for the bigger visitors. These areas have extremely
This explains why mantas and whale sharks are regularly seen in deep water and strong currents. The reefs of Tiran act like a huge
the summer months cruising aimlessly right at the surface for long bottleneck for marine life. Gordon, Thomas, Woodhouse and Jackson
periods of time. reefs lie in the centre of the strait of Tiran. south is the main body
during the summer months the southern red sea is generally less
of the red sea and north is the Gulf of Aqaba, both of which are
productive for sightings of larger species. The resident shark and
extremely deep – up to 1,800m in some areas.
ray populations usually head for deeper slightly cooler water as The red sea is less affected by tides than more temperate seas, but
the high summer sun heats the surface water to an uncomfortable these still greatly influence marine life. The tide in the red sea moves
level. As a result, spring and autumn months offer the best chance on a central axis due to the narrow channel connecting the red sea
for adrenaline filled encounters in this area with the possibility of and the Indian ocean limiting the flow of tidal movement in and out
encountering a wide variety of larger species of shark and ray. of the red sea. When it is high tide in the northern red sea, it is low
Open space
tide in the south and vice versa. This tidal movement, negligible as it
may seem when we are lying on the beach, causes huge movement
For large pelagics in the vast empty open space of the central
of water particularly through the straits of Tiran. Water from the south
southern red sea, deep offshore reefs such as Elphinstone and those
(or north) must rise up from depth, squeeze through the strait and
of the Brothers Islands form huge underwater landmarks towering
between the central reefs before flowing down into the depths on
up from the depths like coral skyscrapers. hammerhead sharks will
the other side. This results in notoriously strong currents, but also
congregate at such features in great numbers during the day before
makes this area a hotspot for marine life.
dispersing at night to hunt squid in the depths. These schooling
ras Mohammed on the tip of the sinai Peninsula also is an area
sharks are thought to use sea mounts as a refuge point in the open
subject to huge volumes of moving water. But, instead of a bottle
ocean. Their heightened senses detect the increased geomagnetic
neck, a huge mix of currents occurs here. Water from the deep, from
signature of the reefs and this attracts the sharks in large numbers.
the Gulf of Aqaba and the Gulf of suez, all collide here on the vertical
The reefs also offer a source of resident prey species for the large
walls of the famous shark and Yolanda reefs. Water flowing out of
transient predators, such as the elusive thresher shark and manta rays
the shallower Gulf of suez is highly saline which makes the water
that also provide work for resident cleaner fish.
denser and causes the strong down currents on Yolanda reef. This
Deep water
giant cauldron of moving, turbulent current acts like a magnet to
other sites in the north, particularly ras Mohammed and Tiran, are
marine life. coral and plankton flourishing in the sunlight as well as a
Issue  october / November 2009 7
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