RSA CAPTAINS LOG 29 MARCH - 03 APRIL 2015
Water temperature: 73 - 77F / 23 - 25C
Air temperature: 68 - 80F / 20 - 27C. Cosy jumper, trousers, sock/slippers and hat recommended for post-dive/evenings.
Exposure suit: 7mm full length. Hood/rash vest underneath recommended for those that really feel the cold.
Visibility: 65ft / 30m
Cruise Directors: Mahmoud & Erin
Dive Guides: Mahmoud; Erin
Salon Steward: Mido
Seamen/Deckhands: Said, Emad, Ayob, Mostafa
Alessia & Jolanda & Joerg; Mike; Andrew; Scott
Our guests arrived in Port Ghalib Marina on Saturday afternoon ready for a week of diving and relaxation. We welcomed guests from America and Switzerland. After everyone had been shown to their cabins, we moved inside the salon for a selection of mini pizzas and the Welcome Briefing. This didnt take long so everyone was soon free to wander around the boat familiarising themselves and setting up equipment in preparation for the next morning. After dinner, the evening was spent relaxing, strolling around the shops and waterfront of the marina, or catching up on sleep!
DAY 1 - Sunday 29 March
After a peaceful nights sleep we woke up to a wonderful continental and hot breakfast, already excited about the day ahead. Our permissions were sanctioned early so we had a headstart to the day. Dive site number one was Marsa Shoana and we were happy to find that we were the only boat there. With the Dive Briefing completed we turned the music on on the dive deck and kitted up to Heatwaves Boogie Nights - the best way to start the day! Within minutes of jumping in the water, and while everyone was making their weight checks, a Dolphin suddenly appeared just metres from our divers and proceeded to spend the entire dive following them around! As if this wasnt lucky enough, we also had sightings of a Green Turtle, and a juvenile Whitetip Reef Shark and many fish including Scorpion Fish and Pipe Fish. This dive was Alessias 50th dive and no doubt a truly memorable one at that! We moved off to Abu Dabbab 1 for our second dive of the day. Here we descended at the back of the boat before swimming over the pretty hard coral garden. Along the way we spotted schools of Goat Fish, Bandcheek Wrasse, and some huge Giant Clams. To finish off the dive, we entered some stunning caverns enjoying the light scattered on the sand through the cracks in the reef overhead. Bluespotted Rays rested on the bottom as we passed. Abu Dabbab 3 lies a short distance from Abu Dabbab 1 and it was here that we made our third dive. Everyone was impressed with the beauty of this dive site and all different species of small fish that live here. Coral heads tiny and large are spread over the sandy bottom and Red Sea Banner Fish, Masked Puffer Fish, and Picasso Fish are just some of the creatures that were seen. We jumped in at Abu Dabbab 3 for our first night dive of the week. This was also Alessias first ever night dive! It was a very relaxing dive spent looking for small little fish tucked away and observing how the reef changes for the night shift. Parrot Fish lay still and undetected in their musousy cocoons, Feather Stars uncoiled themselves, Sea Urchins extended their glossy black spikes, and Big Eye, Shrimp, Bluespotted Rays and Slate Pencil Urchins all put in an appearance. Towards the end of the dive, we were all very excited to see a Clam Digger or Shovel Nose Lobster which they are also called, walking on the underside of a coral head. This Lobster was more than 12 inches in length, and let us take photos of it before we swam back to the boat ladders.
DAY 2 - Monday 30 March
After travelling overnight we arrived at the dive site Shaab Maksour in the area of Sataya. This large reef has a long, large plateau in the south and two giant pinnacles. We headed straight for the pinnacles in search of a Hawksbill Turtle, before swimming along the wall which is completely covered as far as the eye can see in all different species of hard coral. It is breathtaking and also wonderful to see such colour and healthy coral. A school of Black Snapper were next to the wall and many Groupers and Coral Hinds passed us by. Butterfly Fish are ideal models for photographers as they are found in twos and swim very slowly. Up in the shallows, we enjoyed the yellow Broccoli corals and clouds of orange Anthias. Shaab Claude is a favourite dive site as its stunning caves and caverns are magical-looking. On the outsides of the these caves lives a resident Napoleon Wrasse. He came within inches of our divers for a close-up photo, and he certainly photographed well! Inside on the rubbly floor were pale pink Wart Slugs, and Cave Sweepers hiding within one of the chambers. On closer inspection, we realised that an Anemone actually had a load of red eggs that had been laid on it! We moved to Sataya reef next to check if the Whitestriped Dolphins were home. The dorsal fins were seen cutting through the surface of the water not too far away so we suited up and got into the zodiac. The Dolphins were obviously feeling shy as we jumped in the water, and a moment later they were off! Dive four was down in the south of Sataya reef. A sandy bottom, coral heads, big pinnacles, swim-throughs, a coral garden and a drop off make this a terrific site. Phew! A school of hundreds of Fusiliers came from the blue and under the boat, breaking up and darting this way and that as a Giant Trevally switched into hunting mode. Bluespotted Rays and Lion Fish are very common here and Scorpion Fish blend into the background making them fun to try to find. A big Red Sea Coral Grouper patrolled the drop off. The night dive was fun and spent watching the Lion Fish swim around and chase the light of the torches. A school of Sardines came out from the darkness while Boxer Shrimp made themselves known by the red glow of their eyes. The shallow lagoon at the back was full of Unicorn Fish, and Red Sea Banner Fish, and Cardinal Fish retreated underneath coral heads.
DAY 3 - Tuesday 31 March
We made good time on our overnight journey from Sataya to St Johns and arrived in the early hours of the morning. Everyone was excited to jump in the water at Gota Kebir, especially after seeing a Dolphin swimming round the boat before the briefing! The plateau in the south of the reef was alive and buzzing in the morning light with Schools of Goat Fish, Unicorn Fish, Rabbit Fish, a juvenile Napoleon Wrasse and hard and soft corals. Continuing round the corner, we saw Dogtooth Tuna hurrying past the wall, before ascending to the mouth of a cave. Here a clump of Magnificent Anemone sway gently with the movement of water. A fun swim-through bends round back into the cave so we made our way through before carrying on along the wall where we photographed bright Broccoli corals of pink, purple, and lilac. We had a lot of fun on the second dive at Gota Kebir. Another cave allowed us to swim in from one side and pop out the other! A Gold-dotted Flatworm was lying exposed on a sandy patch of rock, a Wart Slug and Bluespotted Ray were inside the cave, and schools of Fusiliers and Unicorn Fish hurried past. The third dive was at Gota Soraya. Our divers were very happy to see two Whitetip Reef Sharks along the wall and some fantastic soft corals. The last dive of the day took us to Abu Bassala. This was a great night dive with sightings of a Spanish
Dancer, Gold-dotted Flatworm, a Giant Moray Eel swimming around, and plenty of Shrimp and Basket Stars.
DAY 4 - Wednesday 01 April
What a lovely calm day we woke up to at Gota Soraya in St Johns! We headed back just before sunrise to dive the east side of this spectacular reef. Black corals, fans, and soft corals adorn the walls of the reef. Nudibranchs and Wart Slugs are found in abundance on this side, and Grey Reef sharks and Whitetip Reef Sharks patrol up and down. We also saw Tuna, Giant Trevally, and two Barracuda at the end of the dive. Next up was Paradise. Here the reef meets a white sandy bottom and huge pinnacles tower over small coral heads. Picasso Fish, Damsel Fish, Lion Fish, and Blanquillo make this site their home. Near to the mouth of cave, we suddenly caught sight of a Whitetip Reef Shark! Swimming through some beautiful caves and out into a shallow lagoon full of mounds of green hard coral ended our dive perfectly. The famous St Johns Caves were waiting for us for our third dive. Bat Fish congregrate underneath the boat, and once inside, the bright orange and yellow Hydroids that line the walls of the caves glowed brightly as the sun caught their lacy bodies. We saw over 10 Wart Slugs and Pyjama Chromodorids, and the eggs of a Spanish Dancer coiled up like a pink chiffon-like spiral. The atmosphere inside the caves is magical, and some interesting fish can be found swimming about. The juveniles of many fish do not resemble the adults at all. Two such fish are the juvenile Bicolour Parrot Fish, and juvenile Clown Coris. The zodiacs dropped us off along the west side of St Johns Caves for the fourth dive so that we could swim back through the lagoon. We enjoyed a cool swim-through and then spent the rest of the dive looking for Whitetip Reef Sharks, juvenile Black Snapper, Nudibranchs, Pipe Fish, and Giant Moray Eels. After taking a shortcut through the shallow
lagoon to the caves, the resident Napoleon Wrasse came to check us out before a ginormous Pickhandle Barracuda surprised us by swimming by. Everyone loved the night dive and there was plenty to see. Basket Stars were spread out in all their glory on top of pinnacles. A Spanish Dancer and Octopus added some excitement to the dive until a Pleurobranch was spotted and everyone went crazy
looking at this alien-like splodgy lump!
DAY 5 - Thursday 02 April
We started our day off at Shaab Sharm in the area of Wadi Gemal. Two dives were completed here - one in the east and the other in the west. The wall was bursting with life as Indian Bird Wrasse, different species of Parrot Fish, Butterfly Fish, Lyretail Hog Fish, and Giant Moray Eels swam about. The hard and soft corals, and pretty Gorgonian Fans caught the light as the sun moved higher in the sky. Schools of Goat Fish and Blue-Striped Snapper stayed close to the reef wall, and a Porcupine Fish retreated back inside its little cave. Blennies ping about on top of coral heads in the shallows as divers come to peek at them. No sooner had we backward rolled off the zodiacs for dive two, than a small Whitetip Reef Shark passed us, followed just a few minutes later by a larger one! We also saw a few Giant Moray Eels swimming about trying to find a comfortable place to rest, and a very juvenile Bluespotted Ray which was especially cute. Dive three was in the area of Marsa Alam at dive site Habilli Marsa Alam. A small circular reef with a lot to see! Tuna, huge schools of Fusiliers, Groupers, and Barracuda can all be found here and the Table corals look magnificent as they jut out from the reef at 90 degrees, one under the other. Our night dive was at Gota Marsa Alam and we saw so many cool critters! There were Bluespotted Rays, schools of Fusiliers, Collector Urchins, Shrimps, Moray Eels and a Crocodile Fish sitting on the sand beside the wreck of an old safari boat that sank years before. Three Purple Flabellina were an overhang that were only spotted as we happened to swim upsidedown and look up at the right time. Finishing off the last night dive of the week were the Flashlight Fish that glowed bright green in the mouth of a small cave, and a black Nudibranch.
DAY 6 - Friday 03 April
Our last day was spent at Elphinstone diving the walls and plateaus of this colourful reef. We saw Giant Trevally and Redtoothed Trigger Fish on the plateau in the early morning light. A Tiger Flatworm was resting on a rocky patch, a Giant Barracuda hung in the blue, and a school of Snapper were relaxing underneath a Table coral on the top of the reef. This made for a fantastic photo. Before the last dive, we saw a pod of Dolphins on the surface and the dive itself was a fantastic way to finish the trip crammed full of fish and water as clear as could be!
Thank you everyone for a cracking week here on board the Red Sea Aggressor and congratulations to...
50th DIVE: Alessia
50th DIVE: Andrew
100th DIVE: Scott
1st NIGHT DIVE: Alessia
We hope to see all of you again. In the meantime...
Safe Diving Always
Your Red Sea Aggressor Crew