In September 2014, Egyptian national and technical diver Ahmed Gabr performed a deep dive off Dahab in the Egyptian Red Sea under the auspices and observation of adjudicators from The Guinness Book of Records. After the dive, Gabr was acknowledged for having reached the record depth of 332m, surpassing South African Nuno Gomes who made it to 318m in 2005, also off Dahab.
In recent decades, many coral reefs around the world have been suffering tremendous damages as a result of global climate change. However, in the northern Red Sea, the situation seems to be somewhat different: Research has shown that the coral reefs in both Gulf of Aqaba/Eilat and Gulf of Suez are unusually resilient to climatic changes. Corals in the northern Red Sea regularly experience 4.0˚C - 6.5˚C daily changes in seawater temperature and seasonal variations that exceed 29˚C.
Many years ago, whilst learning to scuba dive, I came across an article on manatees and dugongs. I was entranced. Not only were they cute, according to the article, they loved hugging divers, and once they held on to you, they did not want to let you go. The image of this human-hugging, underwater teddy bear remained with me and I was determined that one day, I would find one and hug it.
I first visited the Red Sea as part of a marine biological expedition with Dr Paul Cragg back in 1973. After having run safaris out of Israel and ending up living there for several years working on the legendary liveaboard dive boats Lady Jenny III and Lady Jenny V, my love for the Red Sea has never diminished. Now, some 45 years later, a return trip to the Red Sea was increasing my heartbeat in anticipation.
It was 6:30 in the morning, and my dive buddy and I were hauling our gear back from the big zodiac speedboat after a thrilling midnight dive on the famous Elphinstone reef in the Red Sea near Marsa Alam, Egypt. While rinsing my gear, Ahmed—the local dive guide—started talking to me because I was diving a back plate, wing and long hose just like him, and he probably felt some kind of connection.
In spite of Egypt’s current turmoil, I feel this exceptional country is still a place of interest and worth while including in anyone’s holiday itinerary. I recall enjoying the opportunity to tour many of the countries monuments, museums and being able to touch one of the huge pyramids that have surpassed the adversity of historical challenges.