Dive In!

The Red Sea, Ras Muhammad, Egypt

Scuba divers swim through a curtain of bubbles and small colorful fish in the Red Sea near Dahab, Egypt
View or share this image at Flickr.
Scuba divers ascend through a shoal of colorful small fish in the Red Sea at Ras Muhammad, Egypt
So Long!
View or share this image at Flickr.

Touring Egypt 14: Nothing can be more exhilarating than to float weightless through a cloud of bubbles and brightly colored fish; to be completely at ease, literally surrounded by colors and lightness as you look around the reef and up to the sunlight streaming from the surface. It is a holiday every time — the farthest thing from work. It is my personal perfect dream for time away and a reward from work. It feels appropriate for this US holiday, Labor Day.

The Red Sea is filled with opportunities to have such flights of fancy. One famous and favorite dive site along the Red Sea is Dahab, about two hours’ drive through the Sinai northeast from Sharm el-Sheikh. Here there is a famous deep blue hole, but also a number of relatively easy shallow dives along the coast nearby. In one spot there is a shallow system of short, spacious natural tunnels where divers can encounter large schools of small glassfish and sweepers and then on emerging, double-back to swim through the colorful antheas and a curtain of rising bubbles — their own exhaust, escaping through small fissures from the tunnel below and reflecting the bright sunlight from above. (The photo ‘Bubbles,’ on the left above, is a dive group swimming through their own bubble stream on emerging from the swim-through at a site near Dahab.)

The famous dive sites of Ras Muhammad National Park to the southwest of Sharm, are mostly wall dives. Here it is not at all uncommon to encounter large clouds of curious and colorful small fish, buzzing about and filling the sea with life and color. I particularly love the mostly orange scalefin antheas, which are abundant here. They are curious and ubiquitous, but also very quick and shy. When encountered in large schools they fill the sea with exotic color but easily and effortlessly spread and flow around divers. (The photo ‘So Long!’, above is of divers at the “Shark Reef” dive site in Ras Muhammad, ascending through just such a colorful shoal of small fish.)

(On the left, ‘Bubbles’: Olympus C-5060WZ in Ikelite case with one Ikelite DS-125 strobe wired for TTL metering, integrated lens at 15.7mm, ISO 113, f/4 at 1/160 sec.)

(On the right, ‘So Long!’: Canon Powershot G9 in Ikelite case with twin Ikelite DS-125 strobes wired for TTL metering, integrated lens at 10.7mm, ISO 80, f/4 at 1/125 sec.)